I chose to go on a 5 Day Silent Retreat because I was curious, craving quiet time and space, and had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into! It was more amazing and difficult than I could have possibly imagined, and the silence was the least of it. The real challenge was being alone with my thoughts for 5 days (and nights).
Meditating from 7am until 9pm (with breaks for meals) forces one to be with what our teacher, Terry Ray, called our best friend and our worst enemy, our minds. When you face your deepest worries, fears, and insecurities, it is very uncomfortable, but you eventually come to an understanding, acceptance, and even peace about them.
I had many insights, but one of the most profound was my acute sense of waiting, which was relentless: Waiting for the bell to end meditation. Waiting for the next meal. Waiting for the day to be over. Waiting to go to bed. Waiting to get up. Waiting to feel better. Waiting to go home.
I learned this retreat (I would really call it an immersion) was a microcosm of my life. I am always waiting for the next thing, the gig, book, weekend, project, celebration, holiday, and everything else. Waiting is a habit that keeps you expectant, critical, impatient, and restless, because it keeps you in the future.
Nothing meaningful happens in the future. It is all right here, right now. When we practice mindfulness, it brings us back to our peace and presence. Waiting with anticipation or dread is a habit we all have, we just need to be aware of it and bring ourselves back.
Ask yourself right now, What am I waiting for? You might notice what you are missing.