"Be ready at any given moment to give up who you are for who you might become" - Eric Thomas
I saw this quote framed on the wall as I walked up the stairs upon arriving at Kripalu, a yoga and retreat center in the Berkshires (ie The Bezerkshires for you RHONY fans ;), for my first ever silent retreat.
And it practically leapt off the wall and into my bones.
What am I willing to give up (and also.... why exactly do I have to give something up??) in order to become the person I might become....
I saw this quote several times a day, and each time, it resonated in a deeper way.
And it began to dawn on me that when I hold tight to my self-story, I stay stuck.
When I open up to possibility and a new way forward, there is growth and wisdom; I get to clear space out for who I am becoming.
And that is pretty freaking amazing ✨
Here are 19 Truths from those 3 Days in Silence:
You will forget socks, underwear, and toothpaste.
It will be drizzling when you arrive; you will go for a walk anyway and be rewarded with cool crisp Berkshire Mountain air.
You will be immediately obsessed with the facilitator who takes your hand into hers, gazes deep into your soul, and says "Welcome Carolyn, I'm so glad you're here".
You will touch into true compassion as people go around the room and say a single word that describes how they're coming into the space.... Grieving, fractured, heartbroken, overwhelmed, lost, disconnected, tired, lonely, despairing, confused, heavy. And also (but far less often...) open, excited, clear. The heaviness of the room will take you by surprise, you're not sure what you expected, but it wasn't that....
You will be irrationally worried about all the people outside the retreat group that are going to want to talk to you and make you break this sacred vow of silence. *No one will even come close to trying to talk to you.
You will realize that alone time is precious, and your inner introvert will smirk knowingly, and say "I told you so".
You will know how supremely FREEING it is to turn your phone off for a whole weekend (I don't think I've ever done this in my 20+ years of having a phone).
You will pray that the yoga teacher stops holding each pose for 300 hours. *You will be sorely disappointed.
You will feel like you are cheating when you whisper 'thank you' to the cashier when you buy toothpaste... and chocolate chip cookies.
You will fall asleep during any and all meditations - apparently you needed the rest 🤷♀️
You will anticipate meal time with the same blind enthusiasm you exhibit when the flight attendant comes down the aisle with the snack basket.
You will enjoy the slow down and be frustrated by it in equal measures.
You will momentarily forget that your sense of direction is atrocious as you optimistically step onto a hiking trail for a pre-dinner walk. You will quickly realize you are alone in the woods without your phone, have zero idea how to follow even clearly labeled trail marks on just about every tree, and that you are afraid of both the murderers and bears that have been waiting for you to innocently walk into their lair. You will do a u-turn about 10 minutes in, run/walk back, pray that you've seen these same trees and mud along the way, and feel VERY grateful when you see the end in sight.
You will learn that even though you're in your 40's it is never too late to cultivate awareness, and change what no longer aligns with your soul ✨ You can take a drastic turn, or just make small adjustments. You get to decide.
You will miss your family AND at the same time seriously consider moving to Tibet to become a monk (monkess?).
You will wake up on the last day refreshed and invigorated, and super excited for all you've learned. *You will not fall asleep during any of the meditations on this day 🙌🏼
You will go for a walk on that last day and know deep down you are exactly where you're meant to be; both in that singular moment, and life in general.
You will leave the radio off for the whole 3 hour car ride home and thoroughly enjoy the quiet - even though you had an audiobook you couldn't wait to finish.
Once you are home, you will have too much wine in your kitchen, AND you will still get up and create 5 minutes for silence the next morning because you're not letting it all go just because you had too much pinot grigio. It's about progress, not perfection.
And to be honest, one of the most powerful realizations of the whole weekend, was that I get to create more opportunities for quiet in my actual real life.
I don't need to leave the state and retreat into silence for a weekend.
Here are some ways I'm incorporating more quiet into my days:
✨ Wake up and take three slow breaths with hand to heart and belly - this is a long-held practice, couldn't be easier and helps me start my day with awareness and intention.
✨ My new FAV! Sit in my comfy chair, set the Insight Timer to 5 minutes, and start the day with stillness.
This also helps me not waste the time I've allotted to meditation searching for the 'perfect' guided meditation... and then not have time to do it because I just spent all the time looking for it 🤷♀️ Do other people do things like this??
✨ Leave the radio on the 'off' position in the car, to avoid mindlessly adding more noise and clutter to your life.
✨ Know that you don't always need to be learning and doing - there is great value in just being.
This is tough for us in our go-getter, don't sit down for a single second, I-slept-less-hours-than-you-flex kind of world....
For me, this translates to not filling every second with talks, podcasts and audiobooks - even though they are designed to improve my life.
Is there a time and a place for that kind of information and motivation?
But it's not all the time, every time.
✨ Wait to put earphones in until I'm out of the driveway when I go for a walk - take them off for the walk back up the driveway.
✨ No music on at dinner - we have more than enough noise and chaos without it.
Some of these seem small; two extra minutes without noise, one minute of breathing in bed.... but these habits multiply over time and they are powerful reminders that you are in charge of how you go through your days.
You get to cultivate calm and peace, even in the midst of chaos.
So tell me, what are you ready to give up for who you might become?
Right now, I'm ready to ease my grip on the rushing and hurrying and all the busyness - and show myself I get to create, and importantly enjoy, this kind of calm, ease, and quiet in my life.
That is HUGE for me ✨
What could this look like in your life?