What a Five-Day Silent Retreat Taught Me

At first, I was terrified. The idea of spending five days “in my own head” as I kept emphasizing to everyone around me as the retreat approached, was a scary thing. I even caved and brought my phone along in case the silence overwhelmed me. “What will I even think about for that long?” I wondered.

But then something crazy happened.

The first night, I found myself almost skipping down the hallway to my room. I realized, with shock, that I loved the silence. There was something so freeing about just being able to think, daydream, and read without distraction. It was like one of those long car rides where you just stare out the window at the scenery and think—but for whole days.

As each day of the retreat passed, I came to understand why it felt like such a luxury.

Lately, even when I’m “relaxing” I’m not really relaxing. When I’m not doing schoolwork, I feel a constant nudge to be doing something else that’s productive, maybe working on my art business or writing a freelance piece. And even when I’m not doing those things, I’m still filling my day with constant stimulation. I’ll be out for a run, or taking a shower, and listening to a podcast. Or eating breakfast while scrolling through Instagram. And while that’s entertaining sometimes, it can also be too much.

I realized that there has been a profound lack of silence in my life lately. And any chance that there might be some, I quickly fill it in the name of “productivity” or “self-improvement”.

But there’s something important about silence. It invites reflection. Without reflection, we forget who we are, what we’re doing, and why we’re here. And those are important things to know if you want to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment each day. How can you really know how you’re doing if you never take the time to check in?

When the retreat ended, I knew I needed to make a change. I decided to make an effort to build more blank space, more time for silence and reflection, into my life.

For me, that means doing one thing at a time. When I eat breakfast, I’ll leave my phone on the counter and allow my mind to wander. When I’m painting, I’ll focus on the strokes and my vision, not a YouTube video that I’m half listening to in the background. It might sound simple, but it’s surprising how many things we multitask during these days. By allowing just a few minutes a day for introspection, we give ourselves the opportunity to be more relaxed, centered, and self-aware.

Written By: Kara Cuzzone

Very well written!

The little things can really help create so much space in our lives. Thank you for this reminder. You are so courageous to go on a silent retreat!

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