The Silent Treatment - January 2018

"In life, we spend much of our time either resisting what is in front of us or trying to conquer it like a Viking."

In a noisy, fast-pace world where our attention spans are continually challenged, could extended periods of silence be the natural antidote for better quality of life? Meditation is entering into silence and no longer an alternative practice these days. It’s very much part of the mainstream and there’s a new study completed every week to further support the health benefits of this ancient practice.

Meditation reduces stress, improves brain function (actually grows grey matter), develops emotional wellbeing, reduces anxiety and depression, boosts the immune system, reverses ageing and the list goes on.

Daily meditation however is one thing but there’s a new trend sweeping the world - it’s the 10 day silent retreat. What if you could take yourself out of your normal routine for 10 days where your mind is directed off your worries, while someone serves you 3 vegetarian meals a day and you’re in bed every night by 9.30pm, no TV? Could this be enough to create a lasting shift and change your personal trajectory from potential catastrophe to new fields of awareness?

Going into silence for an extended period of time is a deep delve into finding out who you really are and you can only do that by stepping out of who you think you are. That can be a very long list - wife, mother, CEO, competition sportsperson, partner, mentor, favourite aunt, legend to small animals.

I did my first 10 day silent retreat 6 years ago. One of the first things I learned during the 10 days was to surrender and this is not easy because in life we spend much of our time either resisting what is in front of us or trying to conquer it like a Viking. At first, to surrender seems almost defeatist but quite the contrary is true. Learning to acquiesce puts you back into the flow of life and can be your best ally in difficult times.

For those who have tried meditation but found it too difficult or frustrating to learn, taking on such a challenge may seem insurmountable but it could help to dissolve some of the blocks or misunderstandings you may have about meditation. When I taught people to meditate, I found any difficulties were usually due to a lack of understanding and a confidence issue. Meditation is simple but require clarity and commitment.

Another difficulty of course, is lasting the 10 days and generally at least 10% don’t complete the full term but nothing ventured, nothing gained. This year I will complete my 5th silent retreat and I'm very grateful and much looking forward to it.