recently completed my first 5-day silent meditation retreat and I am about to do another one next week! Ahh!
If you had asked me a few years ago if I would do a silent retreat, I would have said heck no. I didn’t think I could be silent or meditate for that long. Nor did I WANT to. But let me tell you, these five days of silence were one of the most healing and amazing experiences I have had in a long time. I typically preach how self-care can be practiced on a daily basis in #MindfulMoments, and I never really understood why going on a retreat would be beneficial since it isn’t “real life.” But now I have a totally new perspective. This 5-day retreat was all about creating an immersive, protected and sacred container to dive deep into my own practice and reach new levels of awareness that I can’t typically connect to in a world full of over-stimulation. This 5-day retreat became a training ground where new seeds of practice and awareness were planted so that I can water them and integrate them into my life moving forward.
The theme of this meditation retreat was called Body Wisdom. All of our meditations had a suggested focus on connecting to the current experience of the body. For someone who thought I already had a strong mind/body connection, I was taken to a deeper level. One of my favorite new meditations we practiced was all about connecting to the four elements in our body: earth air, water and fire. Check out this meditation on my Centered in the City podcast.
A lot of you have asked me what it was like being silent for five days. Was I able to use my phone or read? And the answer is no. No technology, no reading, no journaling, and no speaking to each other! Some people even chose not to engage in eye contact. The only writing that was allowed was during the teacher’s talk as a form of note taking. The teacher explained, “Reading a novel is reading someone else’s story and journaling is getting caught in your own story. The idea is for you to be present and connected to your current experience.” I loved this description because it gave me full permission to tune in verses get trapped in my internal experience.
The practice of meditation was woven into the daily schedule. We had 45-minute sessions of alternating between sitting, walking, and lying down meditation throughout the day from 6am to 9pm. We were encouraged to take this mindful awareness into our daily activities, transition moments, while we ate, sipped on tea, brushed our teeth, etc. Emphasizing that there is no “turning off,” “zoning out,” or “numbing out.”
I also loved getting a chance to practice some Qi Gong—which is meditation in motion. Click on the video below to watch a few different exercises I incorporate into my morning meditation routine to support opening my heart center, and living from the gratitude of my body and life.
These practices in addition to so many more get to be exercises in flexing my mindfulness muscles to tap into the wisdom of my body. When I listen deeply, there are layers of experience. As my teacher, Heather Sundberg, says, “There is the experience of the body from the internal, external and both at any given moment.”
Which pathway do you typically use to listen to the wisdom of your own body? Which one do you want to start listening to in your practice?
Qi Gong Practices:
The intention of the first two practices is to give and receive love and kindness
The intention of the second series of practices is to open up the the second chakra, heart and head
*** With both practices challenge yourself to slow down your breath and movement ***