This slight tardiness in offering my thoughts is just because I wanted to experience my “silent treatment” before I wrote — and I did it, although not nearly as long as I would have liked. Only about seven hours, including the delightful leisurely, sun-roof-open, half hour drive to and from the riverside deck of a friend’s vacant summer home. Phone off, radio off, hearing only the sounds of the air flowing over the open roof and the occasional joyful song of one of my favorite birds — the meadowlark.
I had packed snacks to last for the day, and brought along Og Mandino and the MasterKey binder, but never opened either. It was just so much fun to sit in the perfect temperature, with the stillness of the flowing Sacramento River broken only by a pair of ducks on the opposite shore squabbling now and then about whether to take off or stay put…plus the background melodies of many other birds, including California’s state bird, the quail, and the soft cooing of doves. All in all, the perfect setting to put into effect the Law of Relaxation!
As I have read of the experiences of teammates who have already done real silent retreats, I noticed a common thread — the time it takes to let the mind empty itself of the endless chatter and I am reminded of a seminar I participated in years ago where we were challenged to sit quietly for several minutes and then tell what we were thinking about. As I listened to others of the 20 or so participants relate their multitudinous thoughts, I felt weirder and weirder, so I said nothing. Finally the leader asked if I wanted to share, so I had to admit that I really hadn’t been thinking about anything in particular — just wondering what I was supposed to be thinking.
Not much has changed in my mind since then, I guess, because I had to ask if we were supposed to have some agenda to consider while on this retreat from noise — and was told there was none. So there I sat in that comfy glider on the deck, wondering how an artist would capture the shimmery slate of the river’s surface as it lazily swirled past, reflecting the hazy clouds. Or what the ducks were saying to each other, or to the visiting crane that disrupted their happy home for a few minutes. Or whether the scattered raindrops dimpling the mirror surface of the river would increase, or disappear as the sky started to show off more of its spring-is-coming blueness.
I tried a “sit,” focusing on one of our recent lessons, but I guess I wasn’t there long enough to get tired of watching, listening and enjoying my new surroundings. I wanted to explore, to see what was along the river bank, to eat a fresh orange off the tree–“take all you want” invited my friend–and to just sit or stand still and do nothing.
After about five hours, having enjoyed a couple of snacks, I started to feel guilty that so much of my quiet time had gone by without my mind doing anything, I decided to try an exercise. Ever since starting this journey, I keep hearing that I have to attach “feelings” to the thoughts or they won’t be effective, but I have kept my “feeling ability” so buried that I really haven’t been successful. So I just started thinking, and then writing down, questions of “How would I feel if…” or How will I feel when…” I started out with broad generalizations, then kept narrowing down to details, and asking my brain to remember what I had felt in the past. Little by little a small feeling would pop up, like the fish after the fly, then disappear in the depths again.
All too soon, the sun was not trying so hard to shine through the increasing clouds, and my watch confirmed that it was time to lock up and head back home. At that point, I knew I would soon take up my friend’s offer to spend a couple of days in that lovely place, and let the meadowlark’s song take me way back to those times that felt so good.