Tuesday, November 26, 2013
My friend and I just came back from a silent retreat at the Galilee Centre in Arnprior. Galilee (www.galileecentre.com) is place of peace, spiritual healing and transformation for women and men of all ages. It is a Christian based organization but welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds. The retreat that we went on was called “Presence with the body – discovering ease, freedom and stability – a yoga and meditation retreat.” The retreat was offered by True North Insight (www.truenorthinsight.org) which is a charitable organization that offers a full schedule of insight meditation retreats and courses in English and French. True North is dedicated to cultivating wisdom, kindness and compassion. There are many people in Haliburton County who have travelled to Huntsville to take the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program with Dr. Bill Knight, and he is one of the teachers and retreat leaders for True North. My friend and I started our retreat on a Thursday evening at 7pm and finished on Sunday at 12:30 pm. We were silent the entire time. Of course the meditation and yoga instructors talked when they taught, but at no time did any of the students break the silence except for a private meeting with an instructor. Our days started at 5:45 am with an hour of yoga followed by 45 minutes of quiet seated (on a chair or on a cushion) meditation. The rest of the day and the evenings were filled with more yoga, seated and walking meditations. I was a bit nervous when I arrived because it has been a long time since I’ve gone on a retreat with this much silence. I wondered if I could do it and worried a bit about feeling fatigued and emotional after a busy fall of helping my mother and her healing heart. To my surprise I discovered that almost immediately I felt a sense of relief and gratitude. Relief that I had this time to myself and could be in a group and not have to say anything. And gratitude for my friends and family who were at home helping out so that I could be here. Throughout the retreat I had times of discomfort in my body, my mind wandered to all kinds of things in my life and I felt the worry I had carried about my mom all fall. And at the same time, as the 25 of us sat/walked/ did yoga together in silence my gratitude continued to grow and I found myself appreciating the moments, and the beauty that was around me in such a way that I had no words to describe it. I slowed down so much and had the time to really appreciate the delicious food we were served, the stunning grounds of the retreat centre as a I walked in silence and the gift of my own breath. By the end of the retreat I felt so quiet, grounded, peaceful and really present to myself and to the earth. And so did everyone in the room. I felt like I got such a gift of rejuvenation and rest from 25 people who I never talked to. It was incredible how connected we were through our breath and our silence. There are so many possibilities for healing and rejuvenation for our bodies. And for that I am thankful!