If you didn’t know, I spent my past ten days at my second ten-day mediation retreat. Here are old posts on it for your background:
These retreats have no internet, phone, reading, writing, or talking. You sit still for about ten to twelve hours a day. Because writing here is one of my SIDCHAs and I don’t want to deprive readers of my material (and I had a backlog of post ideas I’d meant to catch up on for a long time) I wrote the past ten days’ posts before leaving and scheduled them to come up on time.
I wanted to speculate on what I might get out of the retreat before going on it to compare what you get thinking about something versus experiencing it.
I expect for the first couple days I thought things like “OMG, I forgot to tell so-and-so about such-and-such! I better make sure to remember so that ten days from now I can tell them” or “OMG, I know the best thing to do for that project I’d meant to work on. I’ll have to remember it to start as soon as I get back.”
I’ll probably also keep wanting to email, browse, update, and so on.
I’ll probably also struggle to stay still for an hour at a time as my muscles learn how to relax without trying to protect me. They’ll probably feel on fire.
Parts of my mind will probably fight with other parts of my mind. They already do that if they aren’t distracted. I won’t have much distraction sitting there, so parts of my mind that crave attention and doing things will try to motivate me to do things. I’ll fear another nine or eight days of no respite from parts of my mind making noise.
A few days into it, I expect a lot of the noise and short-term thinking to cool off. I’ll feel more comfortable. On past retreats I found myself able to think about some thoughts for extended periods, developing them more than I could in a typical environment where people talk where you get interrupted every minute or so. The instruction, however, isn’t to focus on one thought, it’s to focus on your breathing. I felt indulgent to focus on my thoughts since they seemed more important than just breathing, not that I felt bad not following instruction perfectly. I learned more than I ever would have expected had I not done so in areas I didn’t expect I could learn.
This time I think I’ll experiment more with focusing on my breath, letting go, to the extent I can, of the thoughts. I’m kind of scared now thinking about it. It feels like sacrificing time thinking will lose something important in life. Yet people have focused on breathing for centuries. I wonder what I can learn if I stop trying to control my thoughts?
Then again, I have plenty of time to do both.
Toward the end, I expect I’ll again think about long-term important things. I suspect I’ll have stopped thinking about most of the daily stuff I think about today as not that important. Daily things work themselves out. You may have to work on them, but you don’t have to give them your attention or value. A major reason I’m going is that I recognize I’m giving too much attention to things I know I don’t value. Too many people trying to get my attention are too skilled at getting it for me to resist. I expect ten days of respite, while not relaxing themselves, will restore my ability to relax.
If I’m lucky, I expect I’ll have a few meaningful revelations or simply feel great. I’d love to find I can feel great on my own. The less I need to enjoy life, the more freedom I have. Maybe I’ll have a “jumping for joy” experience I can carry with me.
I’m sure I could think of more I could write, but since I’m going to do it in about forty-eight hours, I’m going to save myself the effort of trying. I’ll do it better soon anyway.
Why do I have the feeling I’ll look back at those words and think “I had the opportunity to spend time with my values and I didn’t. I knew what to do all along, I just had to do it.”
If you have any questions or are curious, ask away. I expect after the experience I’ll want to share about it, though maybe not.
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