A MINDFUL DOCTOR ON SILENT RETREATS
At the end of January 2019, I spent a day at a silent retreat with a group of ten people in a Yurt in the Kent countryside.
Some people find silence boring or even scary, making them feel alone and isolated. I have always liked silence. A retreat is an opportunity to get away from text messages and emails, human chatter, and the noise of modern living. It was an opportunity to be present with myself.
Initially I settled next to the wood stove and enjoyed being warm and comfortable and totally relaxed. I tried to let go of the urge to do something and practise just ‘being’ for the first hour. After a while I felt the need to go out and was rewarded by a beautiful view over barren fields and blue sky. I purposely slowed my step down, and took time to notice my surroundings; frost patterns on flower heads and bright berries on bushes. When strolling around the garden I could not help feeling how privileged I was to be here on such a day.
Returning to the Yurt a few people were stretched out on the floor in blankets having a snooze. Some were sitting meditating, and others writing in their journal or colouring. One lady was contently knitting a jumper.
We ate lunch together, and I found myself eating slower than usual and being more aware of the taste and texture of the food. The atmosphere was calm and peaceful. Each person was doing their own thing exploring the silence.
Not much was said when the bell was rung to end the silence, and I suppose everyone took away with them what they needed. I resolved that going to retreats is something I need to do more frequently, plus on a daily basis, to be more mindful of everything that I do.
Dr Craig Brown
Retired General Practitioner