Silence - Day 1

I had been looking forward to the silent part of this retreat. By the end of the first day I was ready to crawl out of my skin. I had spent the whole day thinking about the past, full of anger and resentment and sadness. When I wasn't feeling those emotions, I was busy berating myself for not being able to stay present. My inner dialogue was screaming at me, "The past is the past, why can't you just let it go?"

That night our teacher described that whatever our experience is in silence is ok. The reason these feelings are coming up is because we are giving them the space to surface, which we normally don't do in our every day lives. She said to ask ourselves, is this an obstacle, or a doorway? Letting go happens from staying with, we can't control it or will ourselves to make it happen. 

Silence - Day 2

Day two I spent stuck in a one way conversation (in my head) with the person from the past events in day one. I went over and over what I would say to them once I came out of silence. I didn't really need a response from them, I just wanted them to acknowledge my pain. Each time a painful memory would come up, I would feel it in my body. A slight nausea, tightness of breath, anger and tension.  

Day 3

The last day of silence. Just before the last meditation, my instructor said something that shook me to my core. He said that sometimes we are so consumed with thinking about other people, that we skip right over our own pain. I realized that the reason I had been having the internal dialogues for the last 2 days was because I was really avoiding touching into the pain. And that's when I finally surrendered into it. 

I never understood what people meant when they said the only way out of a painful experience is to surrender into it. I had done plenty of crying and talking and working through this particular issue, but it still always came back with the same intensity. Once I really allowed myself to feel the pain and the sorrow and the heartbreak without any of the story attached and no other person involved, just the deep, rawness of it, I felt it release it's grip on me and let go. The memories that previously created a physical reaction in my body no longer had the same effect on me. They had lost their charge now that I had released the emotion behind them. 

Trying to make sense of things that happen to us that make no sense encourages us to skip over the pain. Instead of feeling into it, we spend a lot of time asking why and trying to understand how it happened. Suffering is when we are under the yoke of thinking things should be another way. The only way out of suffering is through sweet surrender. Feel into it, allow it, and open the door to release it. One small step at a time. 

The Mill Retreat Centre, Normandy, France


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