What I learnt from 7 days of silence

I call myself the Quiet Coach. So you can probably guess that I place a lot of value on quietening the mind so as to make better decisions, appreciate life and be thankful for what I’ve got. So how do I quieten my mind? What works for me is silent meditation retreats. I just returned from a seven-day retreat where the group “returns to silence” as much as is practical. This allows participants to work on themselves (well the process of the retreat works on them really). So what did I learn from 7 days of silence that may be of use to you…

Routines support you when you are in a fragile state

On retreat there is a routine, the aim is to follow it until you need to rest. Knowing when to rest and when to push on is part of the fun! Life is the same, a routine is the container that holds your life, without a routine you live in chaos, alternatively blindly following a routine turns life into a rigid list of to do items (yawn). So next time you are in a fragile state and are a bit wobbly, use your routine to provide you a structure, just do what’s next, tick off your to do list and just cope. Sometimes coping is a victory, so use your routine to provide support in difficult times.

Too many choices leads to excessive thinking

There’s a lot of research on this, too many choices makes us unhappy. Being on retreat reduces your choices down to one: follow the routine or opt out and have a break (after a few retreats even this is not a choice, you just have a break, no problem). In life it’s a bit different, choices define the modern western lifestyle, more choices means you’re more successful. Well maybe up to a point this is true (like having more money makes you happier up to a point, see Maslow in this post for more) but at the moment my aim to reduce my choices with a tighter routine based on my role in life (Dad, provider etc). Hint: simplify your life where you have too many things to choose from.

Against the background of life most dramas are trivial

Meditating a lot helps you develop what is called a “Big Mind”. A mind that sees the absolute/whole of life (as opposed to the relative/parts)  putting all of life’s dramas onto the front stage whilst you maintain a dual view of both the background and the foreground. This is cool because you take life’s dramas seriously but see them against the backdrop of your BIGGER life. Another way to say this is you develop the ability to see the forest and the trees at the same time (cool hey!). Nuff said.

When life is simple there is beauty everywhere

The previous two points allow you to see beauty everywhere… aww isn’t that nice :-)

Nuff said again.

Self-care is critical and must come first

Probably the biggest learning I took away from my first 10 retreats (yes, I’ve been on a few due to my stubborn mind) is the need to care for yourself first. This may sound selfish but self-care must be the first thing you put time into in life. If you are a mess life is a mess and you mess up the whole world. So get your own S&%T sorted prior to trying to do good work, be a parent, worker, teacher, partner etc.

Part of my self care is to meditate, what about you (no, drinking alcohol doesn’t count)?

I hope this post helps you in your journey and please share it with others who may benefit.

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Posted in Find meaning, Quiet
4 comments on “What I learnt from 7 days of silence
  1. Sheenagh says:

    Very insightful with some excellent take home messages.

  2. Raksha says:

    Such wonderful insights! Thank you for sharing and making me think! (hopefully not too much)

  3. I live in NY and there is a fantastic place called the Garrison Institute near me and I hope to attend a retreat someday. Thank you for sharing.

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