“There’s no waaaaay that I could ever be silent for an hour, let alone a day or three.” This was not only my response to the challenge presented by Mindful Schools, but the response of any one of my friends when briefing them of what I got myself into. As I embarked on this new adventure, my 6 day retreat in the Catskill Mountains to kick off the yearlong Mindful Schools Educator Certification Program, I did so with emotions all over the spectrum. Honestly, I thought the most difficult part would be driving five hours by myself (cars & sleep are like mac & cheese for me), but I found that to be surprisingly liberating.
Day 1 was welcoming, peaceful and HOT. The just accept the sweat and embrace the drip kind of hot. Day 2 we invited silence into our world. Silence in this particular environment meant no speaking, reading, writing, eye contact, body language or even holding doors. You are to be one with you, to explore within and your connection to nature. Basically, you are to ignore the 80 other adventurers around you, with the exception of the retreat guides who we had the pleasure to listen to from time to time.
As much as I could go on and on with details of inquisitiveness, boredom, humor, insights and self-love that occurred over the consecutive days of silence, I’ll keep it simple and hopefully meaningful for others. Silence is completely misunderstood. It is underrated in my opinion. I have ALWAYS been a do-er. If I wasn’t doing something, then I wasn’t making the most of my life. Or so I once thought. I bet many feel the same way! Up until recently, if I wasn’t producing something after a string of moments, I felt I was wasting the time that I was barely scraping together. But really, what I learned is that I have actually been missing out on important moments that can so quickly pass by. And catching the lessons in the moments that we are privy to.
From the grazing of leaves along the labyrinth, to the embracing shelter of 20 foot bamboo plants, swirling the most incredible locally grown produce in the mouth or listening with the heart to a powerful thunderstorm rock the mediation hall, insights were flowing. Was it a bit lonely at times? Of course. However, as electrifying as it was to come out of silence and connect with our tribe (the energy level was insane!), I found myself searching for a slice of silence within the first few hours. I yearned to create space in my mind; to create the intoxicating freedom that develops within silence. There is nothing like this addiction.
P.S. Are you wondering if most of us were prepared for the silent experience? Nope, not so much! The best way I can summarize the experience to anyone is by comparing it to running. It was as though my daily 10 minutes of meditation compared to running a 5K and the silent retreat a marathon. For this experience, I was trained for a 5K, but ran a marathon...just barely crossing the finish line. But as with racing events, the community vibes get you through. We found the same at this retreat and because of such powerful connections, would we do it again? 100%.
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I'm obsessed. This is fabulous. LOVE that you are doing this. The new way of being a student forces us to think outside the box and approach how we teach more dynamically.
~Derek, Father of 2 and Elementary School Principal
Just a girl with a dream to collectively build a healthy mind space for children, while creating a healthier mind space for ourselves.
Copyright Healthy Mind Space 2019