By Tina Thrussell
In the July 7th issue of Heart and Mind Matters, I shared my personal journey of unrest that led me to a self-guided 4 day/4 night silent retreat earlier this month.
If you missed this vulnerable sharing, you can read it on our blog here.
In that sharing I also promised to share my actual retreat experience with you this week, yet when I sat down to write Monday night, I got lost in my writing… By the time I hit page three, I realized I needed to create something much more concise for our Tuesday e-zine!
Therefore, I will simply say that I spent four glorious days and nights in nature on the magnificent land at King’s Fold Retreat and Renewal Centre, sleeping in the tiny log cabin (pictured above) called The Hermitage, with no running water nor electricity, no journals, no books, no radio nor electronics to distract me.
I immersed myself in nature and was rewarded with several observations, insights and snippets of wisdom, some of which I share with you below.
It wasn’t until after I got home that I realized how much these insights align with the tenets of the Shin Dao! This tells me these principles are valuable truths to live by. You can read the full list of twelve tenets on the Shin Dao website here.
- The first thing I noticed, on my first day of silence, was that I still – even after recognizing this habit years ago – spend a good deal of my time waiting for what’s coming next. I am challenged to be fully present, right here and right now, appreciating what is in this moment. There were so many moments, even as I sat in the forest with gratitude for being there, that I caught myself waiting for the ring of the cow bell that would signal the next meal, or waiting for the weather to change, or waiting for…
Even after all these years of teaching mindfulness tools, I see how diligent I must continue to be with these practices. My tendency to dwell on the past or wonder about the future, instead of be Here Now persists. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, right !?
It became so obvious to me, as I watched the clouds drift by, that we miss out on so much when we aren’t present to this moment! The Shin Dao Tenet that speaks to this is “Celebrate the Present”.
- After two days of marching around in my hiking boots, I felt a strong call to put my bare feet on the Earth. I clearly heard, “Walk on the Earth all day long and you shall be healed”. After that, I hardly put my shoes back on. I walked barefoot on spruce and pine needles, on manicured lawn, on rough rocks, on polished river rocks, on soft moss, on gnarly roots. With each conscious step, I felt more nourished and nurtured. Being barefoot seemed to magnify my sense of well-being immensely. No wonder one of the twelve Shin Dao tenets is “Connect with the Earth”!
- Early into my sojourn into silence, it occurred to me that generally speaking, humans talk too much. When we’re speaking we’re not listening. I so thoroughly enjoyed not talking those four days that Neil found me to be a rather quiet companion the first couple of days after I got home. I can’t really put words to it, but there is a sense of inner quiet and peacefulness that comes from keeping my mouth shut. I still find it much easier to sit in silence and not speak; to listen instead of talk. I may never speak as much as I used to again! Shin Dao tenets: “Go in Peace” and “You affect others”.
- Nothing nurtures like nature. Truly. I experienced such a deep sense of being nourished by the forest. The multitudes of shades of green were a balm for my tired eyes, the sounds of so many different types of birds were not only soothing to my ears, but to my soul. I felt Oneness with Nature, and with all life. Life felt so beautiful, so sacred as I sat on a stump in the forest, or on a park bench, overlooking the river valley.
The inner peace and quiet that came from being immersed in nature for so many days was unparalled to anything I’ve experienced before. Tenets: “Connect with the Earth” and “Embrace Life, Embrace the Sacred”
- Walking the labyrinth (four separate times, with a different intention each time) brought me affirmation that: I can choose at any time to release self-limiting thoughts; I can choose confidence and power in any given moment; SoA (Source of All) always has my back. Tenet: “You never walk alone”.
- I had a thought, as I sat on a cushion of soft, green sphagnum moss, that humanity’s only hope for survival is to teach our children to appreciate nature. When children see nature as sacred, then ALL life becomes sacred and appreciated. “Embrace Life, Embrace the Sacred”
- It felt so dang good to be able to sit and ‘do nothing’ for days. Even tho I did a lot of walking, every walk included a stop to simply sit and be. Sometimes I sat on a tree stump, sometimes on a soft clump of sphagnum moss, sometimes on the grass, at times on a big rock. Even tho I thought I would, I didn’t meditate much at all. I just enjoyed sitting and letting my mind become more still with each passing day. Tenets: “Let go of your busy-ness”and “Go in Peace”
There were more snippets of wisdom, but I vowed to keep this article short, by simply giving you a taste of my experience. So, this is all I’m sharing here today.
If you care to read my whole story, read the next blog called My Silent retreat – the Rest of the Story.
Until the next issue of Heart & Mind Matters, (You may receive a complimentary subscription to this inspiring e-zine by filling out the form to the right) may you spend time in nature, find time to be quiet and still, experience peace and feel joy.