4 Insights I Gained from a Silent Meditation Retreat

Silvia Christmann

Last week, I went to a silent meditation retreat in a small monastery on top of a hill, here in Thailand: a total digital detox to enrich my body, mind, and spirit.

My electronics were confiscated upon arrival, and I couldn’t have been happier to hand them over. When we get rid of our gadgets, stop talking, and simply sit with ourselves for a while: so many interesting things can happen.

Here are my 4 observations I discovered by sitting in silence:

1. I LOVE a good digital detox.

Sometimes we just have to unplug everything, including ourselves. Digital detoxes are enriching. They mean ZERO distraction and zero obligation to answer to anything. You have not even the slightest idea what is happening in the world, and surprisingly, no interest. I cannot recommend this enough. Turn your phone and computer off, and put them away for a few days. Let the world take care of itself for a while.

And guess what? NOTHING happened that needed my attention. With a little bit of planning ahead, everything was already present and arranged. As a digital nomad, it is crucial to learn how to preschedule and manage my work to accommodate digital downtime, in order to not be a slave to my electronics.

2. The art of being present.

Not speaking for days at a time is refreshing. It makes you more present to what is around you. I could watch my mind wander from past to future. I noticed how often I had to remind myself to come back to the present. The interesting part about being present is that while sitting in the same position, with my gaze on the same spot for several hours at a time, my perception of what was in front of me consistently changed.

When you sit in the same spot for several hours at a time, you get more present and the world around you changes. You’d be surprised how many nuances you can discover — the scent of flowers, little creatures passing by, a breeze…. your senses become heightened. It’s fascinating!!!

3. You can transcend physical discomfort.

Turns out I’m perfectly happy sleeping on a straw mat with a wooden pillow. It’s not that I don’t feel the discomfort, but more that I’m not so bothered by it these days. Believe me – I like to be comfortable. However, when you develop the ability to disassociate from identifying with the pain, it will eventually dissipate. It’s a mental muscle well worth developing for the sake of getting sleep in all circumstances.

The same goes for sitting in the same position all day long. I remember years ago when I first started meditating, I couldn’t sit still for 5 minutes and my legs would always fall asleep. Then I learned how to move past the discomfort and nowadays I just let it be. It feels like a real accomplishment. This time my meditation retreat flew by. I was able to sit with true joy and pleasure.

4.  I like to bend the rules.

My ‘inner rebel’ is always convinced that rules are made to be amended at my discretion. That’s a big one for me. I’m not that great at following the rules. I just have to sneak at least one ‘rule breaker’ in there every once in a while.

Realistically, it’s not that hard to follow some simple and logical rules for a few days. Yet, I failed. I snuck in a short nap here and there. I hid a little bag of snacks with me, and sat down during walking meditation – you know, little things.  I’m not massively disrespectful, I’m just exercising my little inner rebellion. I wasn’t even hungry when I ate my snack, I just knew I wasn’t supposed to do it.

I also really struggled with the walking meditation. It always felt like it was interrupting my seated meditation. I did not want to get up and walk. I watched a little resentment flare up and I had to really try to not stomp around the garden out of rebellion. Sometimes, I simply found a spot and sat back down to meditate. Really silly, I know. It made me laugh at my inner rebellion, as if that even mattered. Nobody cared. Nobody was watching anyway. It was only me being a witness to my own purposeless rebellious nature.

When you sit with yourself in silence for days at a time, there is nowhere to hide. Your thoughts, your fears, your quirks and your rebellions – they all come out and show their faces.

And that’s okay too. I do not need to judge myself for it. I can simply observe myself.  As much as I aim to improve myself, I have also come to realize, I do love myself with all my imperfections.

How about you?

Can you relate?  Got any meditation digital detox insights you want to share with me? Please feel free to reach out.

 

Much love,

Silvia