It sounds simple enough. Giving back to oneself could be getting a pedicure, enjoying a nice lunch out or catching up on one's favorite TV shows. And while all these things are satisfying, the experience I have found of late that is most rewarding is finding time for silence. A time to turn off mobile devices, computers, the TV, the chit chat, the "catching up", podcasts, music - yes even music - and just be. Just be in silence to reflect, meditate, or simply breathe.
This past weekend, I attended a half day retreat at a meditation center about an hour from my house. I signed up for the retreat because the idea of being out in nature away from the hustle and bustle of life sounded enticing. I didn't realize until I arrived that the retreat was going to be a silent retreat. A silent retreat is one where though direction is provided by our retreat leader, participants are not expected to socialize with each other, engage in conversation, or complete any shared activities.) The affect on me when hearing this was an immediate relaxation in mind and body. As our instructor explained, the word "retreat" means to withdraw, to pull back from our day-to-day responsibilities for this allotted time. She went on to encourage us to think of the word retreat as two parts, "re treat", because ultimately this was a treat to ourselves. I couldn't agree more.
The day included guided meditation, a nature hike, breathing practices, a walking meditation and a light meal. All the while, besides the occasional gentle direction of our instructor, twenty of us shared the space together in silence. For me, it was a time shut down my social skills, my teaching voice, and my welcoming persona. I was able to be with my own reflections and breath. I was quite literally able to take in the world around me. How crisp the air felt, how gorgeous the flowers appeared, how sensational the breeze felt against my cheek. This truly was a treat.
I would love to go back each month for a half day retreat, but you and I both know that may not be realistic. So I remember the day with abundant gratitude, thankful that a need, a craving and treat were all satisfied. I also take away the reminder that little moments of quiet can be simple treats, just as sweet as a piece of my favorite chocolate.
I wonder...where does silence fit in your life?
In quiet reflection,
photo credit: Meditation Mountain: https://meditationmount.org/visit/