Buckle up, the challenges are about to come thick and fast for a couple of weeks…!
Many (most?) of my friends would probably say I like to talk… but I can be quiet… honestly I can. Hence this challenge. A one-day Silent Retreat.
I have to say I was definitely feeling challenged today – Saturday morning, a kid-free weekend, and I’m up at 8, preparing everything I need for a day of silence. Meditation cushion plus 3 other cushions, 2 blankets, thick socks, a jumper and some food for the ‘silent lunch’. I had a hearty breakfast for fear of my stomach rumbling through the silence, and set off for the Sbectrwm Centre in Fairwater.
I completed a beginners’ Mindfulness course with Vicky Worsley of Mindful Space (www.mindfulspace.co.uk) back in 2012. I have acquired some of the paraphernalia – cushion, Tibetan singing bowl, meditation CDs – but have not been a committed practitioner. I do enjoy it. I’m just not very good at finding time for regular mindful meditation.
Today there were 25 participants, men and women of varying ages, sizes, and experience. I found myself a chair, placed my lunch contribution on the sharing table, and settled in. Introductions, explanations and then we started. A walking meditation first. As it was a sunny day, the garden was open to us so I walked outside. I really enjoyed this one – found I could shut out the brain-chatter and attune to the sounds of nature with relative ease. A half-hour meditation seemed to be over in a flash. Back indoors, we did a guided seated meditation next – another half an hour. I always find sitting makes me fidget more, but it was okay.
Coffee break, and then a third meditation, for which I decided to lie down. Always dangerous with your eyes closed. I didn’t snore… I just had something stuck in my throat (honest guv).
Then came the part of the day I’d actually been dreading. A one-hour SILENT lunch break. I’m used to sociable mealtimes, and was anticipating awkwardness and thumb-twiddling… What actually happened was a delicious lunch, eaten and enjoyed calmly and thoughtfully, without incessant jibber-jabbering. The hour flew by and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
My concentration after lunch was variable. First was another sit/lie meditation. I dared not lie down after lunch! Then another walking meditation, but this time very slow steps both forwards and backwards, feeling the ground beneath our feet and the movement of our limbs and muscles. This challenged me to tune in to the space around me and heighten my awareness of people and things in the room. It was good.
The final hour of the day involved some group feedback, a talk from Vicky about the things that ‘get in the way’ of mindfulness (all of which I could relate to 100%), and a final parting silent meditation. I left feeling thoroughly uplifted and with an intention to attend another similar event in the summer.
And I didn’t utter a word from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Result.
[7 down, 43 to go]