While you were being enlightened…

For 10 days you were peacefully contemplating life, absorbing the purest form of mindfulness and reflecting on thoughts that passed in and out of your mind’s eye, getting to the big “E”. While you were being enlightened I reflected on why I would never want to go on a 10 day silent meditation retreat.

Before you left we talked about what a silent retreat was and these are the details that stuck out to me most. You can’t talk, exercise, do yoga, write anything down, read, eat dinner (cause it was your second time and you are now advanced), you wake up at 4am, and most startling you can’t make eye contact. We laughed at how absolutely horrid this would be for me and your comment was, “it’d be good for me to go, just to follow the rules…”

This literally sounds like something I would hate and would challenge me to the core, I imagine it as a kind of hell on earth. When we first discussed it, it was particularly humorous how different we are in approaching the idea of a silent retreat. All this made me really think about why I would never want to go. This is what I came up with:

I am a social creature. I actually crave social interactions and gain my energy from people. Sometimes known as an extrovert. I recognize that I need to be where the people are; loud and bustling spaces, watching how people interact, observing relationships and being able to place myself accordingly.

I have a loud internal monologue. Only being able to listen to myself for 10 days, I think I would drive myself bonkers. I would make myself dizzy talking to myself for that long and not being able to verbally clarify, process out loud and to connect to other minds.

I am an idea processor. Not only do I have a loud internal monologue, I need to write down the idea, look it over, reflect and come back to it with new insights. I need to visualize the idea in words and drawings, it helps me to understand the interactions and flow.

I am a rule bender. I don’t break rules for the sake of it, well sometimes, but mostly I question them. I ask what is the point, why this rule in particular and then I try and push the edges of the rule to see how far I can get. I think of rules like bendable fences. I have a hard time with constraints, especially when I don’t understand why.

So knowing all this about myself, I was able to reflect deeper onto why I wouldn’t want to go to a silent retreat and the more I did, the more I came to the realization that a silent retreat might be the perfect challenge. Crap.

I have been pushing myself and others to be uncomfortable, to challenge yourself and to live in the ambiguity of the process. I am not saying I am going to march out and sign up for the next 10 day silent retreat, but I think I will start to look for the baby step version of it. Can I be silent for 30 minutes? 1 day? Only I can make it happen.

Yet again, you have taught me something without trying. Stop that!

Design thinking me…


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