Thursday, March 10, 2016

The "retreat" is silent - Monticello, New Mexico

There are good reasons for a retreat to be silent, and I discovered three of them for myself:


It gives you permission to be solitary.

Although we arrived singly and in clumps, and we did socialize the night before the retreat began, when we were put on silence we dispersed. There didn't seem to be a plan, and we didn't talk about it ahead of time, but it happened. 




It gives you a chance to experience just how loud your ego can be.

The first two hours on silence, the voice in my head was deafening. It didn't say anything extraordinary, like I should write it down for future generations. It just narrated. It's like the guy you sit next to on an airplane. Friendly, well-meaning, wanting to be helpful. 

"SAY, HOW ABOUT THIS SILENCE, HUH? PRETTY QUIET, ISN'T IT? IS THAT A BIRD? WHAT KIND? I WISH I HAD A BIRD BOOK! I'D LOOK UP THAT BIRD. I WONDER IF THAT PLANT WOULD GROW AT HOME?? YEP, I SURE DO WONDER ABOUT THINGS! I WONDER HOW THE JACUZZI IN MY ROOM WORKS! I WONDER HOW EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING WITH SILENCE! HEY LOOK, I'M MEDITATING! I SURE AM MEDITATING GOOD! RIGHT? HEY, RIGHT? DON'T YOU LOVE THIS SILENCE? ... "

The Voice is no stranger, but I had forgotten how noisy she can get. She did settle down, eventually, and went back to what she's best at, which is deciding how to wear my hair and remembering how to walk to dinner.



A lovely house for sale. I already licked it.



Peace Gate

It prevents personalities from clogging up the experience.

Silence keeps the words from arising. If they arise in the guy next to me, who cares as long as I don't have to hear them? So, the gregarious are enjoying the event just like the reserved are. I wasted not one moment coming out of the experience by wishing someone would keep his enlightenment to himself. They also did not have to tell me to shut the quack up.

I broke silence twice without realizing it. A dog was crying for me on the other side of a gate. I wanted him, he wanted me, and we talked about the possibilities. A bird caught himself, not once, but twice in the woodstove, and the second time I expressed my incredulity while getting up to free him again.

Monticello Elementary School

If you've experienced this kind of intentional silence, I'd love to hear your own discoveries. How did it feel? How was it different from just being alone and not talking? How did it affect your experience of your surroundings? 




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15 comments:

PerSueTheDream said...

What a lovely little town Monticello. Check out the visitor center museum before you leave town. I just posted a youtube about it...if you have time to watch it sometime I'd love to know what you think. Enjoy your retreat..good for the soul.

Good Luck Duck said...

Sue, can you post a link to the video? I read your comment and thought, "Visitor's Center museum??" That would be worth seeing.

Nickie Jim said...

Sometimes the "committee" noises can be overwhelming.

I can appreciate your silence. Mine, too.

Good Luck Duck said...

Yeah, Nickie - all those Voices trying to reach consensus...

MFH said...

That's not faaaaIIIIiiir!! Asking all those questions when YOU're the one who went!! We wanna hear about YOUR experience FIRST!

Good Luck Duck said...

Ha Michael - I got you started. Your turn!

MFH said...

AAAWWWWWW, maaaaaaannnnn! Now I have to *think*! First, another cup o'jo.

MFH said...

Okay...never let it be said Herrmann wouldn't rise to the bait. But just so you won't accuse me (even if it IS true) of enjoying the sound of my own writing....I'm the first to go speechless in the presence of the pudenda(dum) of the goddess. But when TALKING About it....I can, as you can see, wax on and on and on...

Disclaimer: I'm not sure my experience is comparable. I've been on retreat practically all my life...in one form or another. But I think of January 2010 as when I finally got my affairs (literal and metaphorical) in order enough to FULLY commit to myself and take to the road....like a *real* retreat.

And even though The Pythia denied her abilities, it has been as she foretold...an ongoing process. Each new "layer" -- sometimes instantly recognizable as when the Nevada sunset, streaming down the valley (I was camped waaaaay up on the bajada) gave life to a rainbow a few thousand feet above the valley floor -- at other times unfolding over a period of weeks, clearing and clouding the way the moon sometimes plays hide-and-seek on Halloween. Either way, the moment when I "see" something, whether it's an act of god (fetal almond butter), or innate human goodness, it often inspires tears.

Recently, I played a joke on myself by deciding I was enlightened. Within a few days EVERYTHING I touched became an annoying tangle. Before, when I'd lift the camera from its place it'd come away easily. Now it hooked its lanyard on the brake handle or the seat- belt buckle and refused to relinquish until I'd stopped and unwound it with FULL ATTENTION. The best was when I tried to pull a single pair of underwear from the pocket where they live and they ALL jumped out onto the sand.

At first I was puzzled. Over the next few weeks I vacillated between annoyance and chuckling at the "lesson." The irony that I THOUGHT I'd BEEN paying attention all these years weighed heavily on each new wrangle...that dang long underwear's inside OUT!

I finally broke down and pleaded to the gods that I'd never do it again. Of course, being German, I had my fingers crossed. They, being gods, let up a little bit. And although I generalize that there's more "grace" available in the wilds where it's quiet, I encounter it, as you've seen from my blog, frequently among people too; both in town and the middle of nowhere. And though I enjoy the magic that seems more evident when I'm alone, I've had enough experience with others (see Growing Olde(r) to know there's some awesome joy when two unite.

How's that for a starter? Too tangential? Too long? Feel free to edit.

Good Luck Duck said...

Wow!!! You jumped right to the heart of it, and I heard every word. And, yes. When the gods laugh, I like to think they're laughing with me. Nice, Michael - really nice.

Barbara Lane said...

I would've licked that house too. Love all the doors, the symbology. Portals. Silence is, as they say, golden. Having a hearing disability I live most of my life in silence. I love it (good thing, huh?). The world is a noisy place! I like my own company, and miss it when I've been out in the throngs too long. Then I need to get back to the silence to ground, regroup, and find that OM spot. Silence centers me, and too, after a time it will send me back out into the fray. The yin and yang of it...out in the world it's constant stimulation. Even when it's all in the form of a wonderful adventure constant stimulation is constant stimulation.

So I seek the Life Buzz and then retreat back into silence to absorb and process. A balancing act for sure. The longest I've been in intended silence is ten days. Then I had to venture out for food, and my first encounter was at the grocery store. Wrong place to break the silence! But I learned. Like fasting...it's important how we reintroduce that kind of energy after going without...

Loved this post.

Good Luck Duck said...

Yes!!! This. I love the silence, and then I love the buzz. What I was most reluctant to re-encounter was the informational barrage.

MFH said...

But your lifestyle isn't that much different from a retreat, is it? I mean (hear inflection of son of the rail-rider guy...I forget his name) you're autonomous and spend, so it seems, quite a bit of time alone. ?? (SUCH a coquette!!)

Good Luck Duck said...

Haha! I'm not sure I've ever been called a coquette, but I kinda like it. Yes, my lifestyle is a little cloistered, it's true, and at times I'm almost excruciatingly social. And, at times, I can't pry myself away from the distractions that bring "noise" into my world.

Steve said...

Looks like a great place to hang out for a while.

Anonymous said...

I do have a question are you still camping in your PRIUS , or have you changed vehicles ?

Happy trails on whatever wheels you have !!

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