After hearing about silent retreats for many years, I finally embraced the concept and decided to attend one last fall.
Then I encountered two problems. I couldn’t find one that fit my schedule or budget. Who knew that silence would cost thousands of dollars?
That’s when I decided to create my own silent retreat.
If you’re ready to escape the noise around you, I encourage you to try it too.
Here’s what I did:
I chose a week when my kids and husband were out of the house.
I turned off all electronic devices.
I had enough food to feed myself and all the pets in my life for the five “retreat” days.
I resolved not speak a single word, even to those pets. I wouldn’t read books. I only listened.
I set a timer for the 20 minutes a day that I checked my iPhone. (I couldn’t go cold-turkey with no electronics. I spent too much time wondering if the world had ended and I missed it.)
I didn’t talk.
I found it most difficult to stay silent with my pets. Surprisingly, they paid closer attention to me when I didn’t speak.
Maybe it was because I had to get down on their level and gesture to communicate? Maybe it was because they don’t use words? All I know is they paid closer attention to me when I wasn’t constantly yammering.
Another surprising thing I learned is that silence doesn’t really exist. Birds sing. Leaves rustle. Wind blows. Water trickles. My heart beats.
And hearing them is a gift.
I could hear those beautiful sounds so much better when I kept quiet. Perhaps hearing the unspoken sounds of nature help us better communicate with others.
If a silent retreat is not possible, try taking a hour-long walk in nature without your iPod or earphones. You’ll be amazed at what you hear.