Sometime in June, I was in a horrible mood and signed up for a seven-day silent meditation retreat. I had been having a lot of stormy days, and I was sick of my mood, my perspective, and, frankly, myself. Nothing else — exercise, yoga, therapy, fun trips, time with friends and family — seemed to do anything but temporarily relieve my sourpuss mood.
So in September, the time finally arrived to pack up for the retreat: Seven days of no talking, no reading, and no eye contact. The schedule had a minimum of four hours of meditation per day, and all meals were held in silence. If someone had an emotional outburst at any point during the retreat, you were absolutely not allowed to look at, touch, talk to, or comfort them in any way. The goal of the weeklong silence? To deepen attention within, in order to allow more profound awareness and understanding to emerge. When the silence started on Friday night, I felt anxious, but with no one to look at or communicate with, I kept my eyes downcast and decided to take it one step at a time. Within just the first 36 hours, it was clear this was going to be a transformative experience. And it was.
Here are seven realizations that came out of my seven days of silence.