Last weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a 3-day silent retreat, our compassionate hosts were Vicki Overfelt, founder of Mindfulness Utah and Scott Moore. Approximately 35 of us checked into our rooms around 6pm on Friday evening, ate dinner at 7pm [with conversation at this point] and then we went into silence in our evening session. We were silent until Sunday around 11:30am. A little insight… I went to this retreat with one my besties, you know the friend, the one you can talk to about anything, vent, share your dreams, cry and feel totally understood. We shared a room and a bed for the weekend. [And, yes we did keep our silence with one another, and yes it was challenging.]
Before we went into our first session on Friday evening with sitting and Yoga Nidra practice, we were asked to set an intention for the weekend, mine was to listen and trust my intuition. I feel I have been coming out of what other C-Adventurers refer to as “chemo fog.” I can feel my energy coming back, with more clarity and regaining my “inner truth – trusting my intuition” is a huge part of rebuilding my foundation.
I brought my journal to the retreat, during a break on the first night I wrote how I was looking forward to allowing my experience to unfold. [excited and feeling positive] On Saturday, we had four 2hr sessions of sitting/walking, eating in silence, and some mindful yoga taught by Scott.
The session before lunch, Vicki and Scott took turns reading a chapter from the book Self-Compassion, by Kristin Neff, PhD. [next on my list to read] As I sat there listening to them taking turns and reading out loud, the tears began to run down my face and the need to continuously blow my nose began. The chapter was about being self-critical with ourselves, instead of having compassion like we do with others in our life. It really hit home how I have made being self-critical a habit. That feeling of not being enough, not deserving.
As I sat in silence and listened to the words, my mind drifted to how I compare myself with others, thinking I should be somewhere else other than I where I am in life. [53yrs young, rebuilding my life after my C-Adventure, the dissolution of 13-year marriage, and continuing a respectful relationship with him as we co-parent our daughter] And asking myself, how did I get here?
Sitting on my cushion, blowing my nose and wiping my tears, I remind myself to come back to the present, feel my breath rise and fall. I thought I had let this shit go… well you know what? There are infinite layers to the onion of letting go. I may have peeled back another layer this passed weekend, and I know I will have more.It’s a process, period.
I remind students all the time, relaxing the mind and body is an infinite onion, there are always more layers to peel away. Well, I felt that first-hand this past weekend, and again that “inner truth” realization of any resistance I find in my life, is my own. Don’t you love how the Universe gives us the chance to embody what we teach, the advise we give to others, what we believe? Giving us the gift to learn from contrast, so we can walk and talk our light.
An inspirational friend who has been on many silent retreats, many 18-day retreats, and has participated in four 30-day retreats. [remember mine was only 3-days] She reminded me, “Silent retreats are a way for us to look at our shit, without judging.” I thought to myself, “Yes, yes it is, it isn’t all roses, it’s a chance to observe our thoughts, and let them flow through us.” Of course, I am still working on that without judging part, as I peel away another layer of the onion.
Reminding me, “words do not teach, experience does.”
My personal analogy for the weekend comes from my daughter’s crested gecko. It is in the process of shedding it’s old skin, I feel I am doing that too. Shedding what no longer serves me and feeling into this new skin I find myself in, doing my best to relax and let go into the unknown while trusting my intuition.
Coming back to the present moment … I choose to give myself compassion, embrace it all, as I continue peeling away the layers of a self-critical habit … another infinite onion of life.
This life is a process, not a destination.