Moving into Silence – Making Space for the Mind
I am leaving this morning to attend a my first silent retreat, Moving Into Silence. Vimala Bhikkhuni, the Buddhist nun who practices at the Blue Lotus Temple I attend in Woodstock, Illinois, is leading the retreat along with a yoga instructor. Together they have led many of retreats and it will last for about one full day, starting Friday evening after dinner and ending with a group meal on Saturday evening. We will meet at the Siena Retreat Center in Racine, Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Michigan. The center is operated by a group of Dominican nuns and this is one of many retreats they host throughout the year. I am excited to visit their center and experience a period of intentional silence.
I am a little uneasy about going into silence, from what I have heard from other retreat attendees. I told a woman at the temple on Wednesday that I was attending Moving Into Silence this weekend and she gave me encouragement. She had attended two retreats in the past, but warned me that sometimes that the conscious effort of refraining from interacting with other people, even though you are in close contact with them, is unnerving and can bring up uncomfortable emotions and thoughts. I read elsewhere that one women attended a silent retreat and had to leave halfway through, unable to cope with what arose in her own mind.
It seems that more likely, attendees find the retreat calming and relaxing, bringing them focus to their practice once they re-enter everyday life. The positive effects of attending retreats must outweigh the negatives, or else people wouldn’t continue to take part in them.
I will try my best to leave my expectations at the door and stay open to whatever experience I will have. Namaste.