What we feed our minds is easily as important as what we feed our bodies.
Wholehearted is soulfood for your mind, a weekly observation to nudge your thinking and warm your heart.
For more than a dozen years, I’ve thought about attending a ten-day silent retreat – a space for contemplation, removed from the world. I’ve read about retreats, talked with folk who’ve been on them, even diaried bookings and then cancelled. As someone who loves both silence and solitude, the irony of that gap between intention and action is not lost.
Life got in the way. Or at least I let it do so, with plenty of excuses about not enough time, even though I control my diary.
Level Four Lockdown should have been an ideal opportunity for a self-imposed retreat. Only it wasn’t. As with all things, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and my inability to physically be with people meant a greater desire to be there virtually. So, more phone calls, video sessions and messages. And oh, the meetings!
Level Three weeks look much the same.
You might not need ten days of silence – although if you’ve been locked down for weeks with kids and partner and working from home, it could sound enticing. Ten days of no noise, no news, no demands, no chatter, no outside world. Bliss.
In a 2015 conversation with Krista Tippett, the writer Pico Iyer commented that our outer lives are only as good as our inner lives. He said that ‘to neglect our inner lives is really to incapacitate our outer lives. We don’t have so much to give to other people or the world, or our job or our kids.’
So where are you currently finding quiet space to manage your inner life? Is it your walk? Or your morning cuppa? Is it writing? Is it in the garden? Or in the shower? Wherever it is for you, protect it as vigorously as your physical bubble. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about being wary of exposure to external news and views, and that applies equally to self-talk. Internal fears and worries quickly become shouting voices.
A wise woman recently reminded me that peace is in returning to what matters most. The values at the heart of who we are, that we hear and remember best when we are quiet.
That’s the value of retreating. To reflect and protect. To be beside yourself - in the best possible way.
My ten-day retreat is confirmed for later this year. In the meantime, I’m finding peace in the cracks. What about you?
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