January 5, 2015 “So, what is a silent retreat”? He asked me, “A place you go to think?” Although a great question, it’s quite the contrary. It’s a place where my mind slowly becomes free of useless chatter. You know the kind! Imagine a mind where there are no self-doubts, questions, judgments or criticism. It’s a place where you have an opportunity to rest in nothing and experience a full and enlivened heart – all at the same time. This is a place where 150 other people and me (mostly strangers, some friends) eat together in silence. Not hostile or angry, “I’m giving you the silent treatment” silence, which most of us have experienced at some time or another. This is a peace-filled space, without the need to talk while spending time with other people. At first I felt awkward, as I experienced the adjustment of being with a friend I loved and not talking. Healthy silence. I noticed the colors of my food before I ate it, textures while I chewed and the fresh, organic tastes of the flavors. Okay, truth be told – I use to inhale my food while conversing with a friend or alone. Not here! This time I learned to slow down and appreciate every bite. I heard the clang of the dishes and silverware, the birds chirping outside and noticed the subtle body movements of strangers and friends. The only thing of importance here is breathing, noticing the gift of breath and emptying the mind. No easy feat and yet worth every moment of practice. By the way, silence in this environment included singing and music that stirs the soul – another form of tone, deeply exhaling out loud, laughing, just not the spoken word. Why not the spoken word? To rejuvenate and rest from the conversations inside your head (that probably don’t serve you well) and outside of you. When there’s healthy silence between people there are no forced conversations, awkwardness, insecurities, competitiveness or jealousy – simply neutrality, loving positive regard and peace. Being with each other in relation and communion. What a concept! No cell phones, televisions or computers. No distractions, just the sweet stillness in yourself and your beating heart. What a gift to behold. I went on an annual silent retreat to bring in the New Year in a reflective, contemplative and celebratory way for many years. I learned envision myself living my best life, as my best self in alignment with my core values, strengths and talents, from my heart. Now I create my own. I find it necessary for my health and wellbeing, as well as to begin the new chapter of my life on a fresh note. Schedule and try on creating silence in your life. Enjoy experiencing yourself and your life from a different perspective. You might thoroughly enjoy it! I sure do.