So, about a year ago, I had a client come back from a silent retreat and was sharing with me in our session all the amazing things he had experienced. My curiosity was piqued and I asked him to send me the details. I booked, and now the time has come!
Next week, I'll be whizzing up to North Yorkshire to stay with about 12 other people at The Tree Relaxation Retreat. I've opted for the Sunday to Friday option; arriving Sunday evening and then departing Friday 3pm. A week of silence.
For those who know me, I like to keep busy and am generally never too far from a digital device. I justify it to myself by saying things like 'well, I work for myself and I therefore need to be contactable for existing clients and new business.' but the reality is, I really don't, and the world won't stop spinning, just because I've switched off my phone for 6 days. The 'always on' world definitely comes at an expense. For me, the cost comes in the form of attention and ease. I used to find it much easier to sit down for hours and read a book, and it's not unusual for me to feel a slight sense of restlessness if I think there might be some work to do. A retreat therefore sounds like an excellent opportunity for a digital and dopamine detox.
I recognise that getting the chance to go on a retreat is a real privilege. Nick will be staying home to look after the cats (and a mate's dog it would appear) and my friends and family are well and won't need me. I'm definitely grateful for all of that as it will mean I can completely switch off!
There's been a few things I'm needing to do in preparation for attending. My first step was to have a conversation with the owners of the Retreat, Edward and Clare. This, they tell me, is an important meeting to make sure I am suitably prepared to take part. They want to know about my previous experiences of yoga and meditation as well as any occasions when I have experienced a silent retreat. I leave the conversation having satisfied them that I have the commitment and desire, albeit acknowledging the idea of getting up at 05:00 every day doesn't thrill me! (I'm a 07:30 kinda guy!)
All of the next steps they recommend are in the week prior to attending. So, starting today:
No caffeine (goodbye morning coffee)
No processed sugars
Eating lots of fruit and veg
Lots of water to drink
Much of the above is to avoid experiencing any kind of withdrawal whilst on the retreat itself. I've heard of people getting terrible headaches from stopping caffeine/sugar and whilst I haven't ever experienced this myself, I can imagine having a headache whilst meditating is not fun.
In terms of other preparation, we've been asked to do some reading in advance and to consider our intention for what we'd like to get from the week. So far I've written down a few things that I'd like to do some more thinking about over the course of the week, mostly relating to my coaching practice, business and family.
On The Retreat
Life will be quite different whilst I am there. We'll be up at 5/5:30am each day with our yoga/meditation practice starting at 6am. (This is one of the reasons I wanted to do it in the summer as I can imagine this being pretty hard in the winter!)
Each day has structure and a rhythm involving both independent and guided practice.
We'll sit in the same space three times a day for our meals and our food will be there waiting for us.
On arrival, we will hand in our phones/digital devices and we're asked not to bring any reading or writing material with us so we're not tempted.
Silence starts on Sunday evening and concludes when we fall asleep on Thursday. This means we will be able to talk and reflect on the Friday.
Weirdly, it's the 'starting talking again' that I am most nervous about. Fancy having spent a whole week with people without saying anything and then speaking for the first time on the Friday?! I am of course excited and curious about it really. I'll just have to suspend my usual smiley social self until the final day.
I hope sharing this information is helpful. I'll be sure to write some more about the experience on my return.
As always, thanks for stopping by...