Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to be in complete silence for 24 hours. COMPLETE SILENCE! Okay, no big issue for me, I thought. I have been involved in ‘silence’ mode several times in my life before while attending certain retreats. These retreats afforded “Me-Time” to be alone with my thoughts. No big deal. I love doing this. What was different this time, however, was that the added elements were VERY unfamiliar to me.
Okay. Let me explain. For this retreat event, we were told to: pack your camping gear and bring a journal, two pens, my medicine, a water bottle and any feminine hygiene care items. Furthermore, we were told to remove all jewelry, including my watch. We were restricted from bringing any reading materials, electronic/mobile devices, or food. We were separated from all other participants (no human interaction) and were told that we could not set a camp fire. This was stressing me out! The anticipation of what was yet to come was making me anxious and nervous especially because I knew I would have to pitch-a-tent all by myself. Which I never done before in my life! I did a practice run before with someone teaching me, but I had help. In the wilderness, I was completely out of my element. Who would help me if I failed miserably? I am a city girl. I have never gone camping and much less alone.
I said to myself I will figure it out. I can do it. I kept talking to myself as I started pitching my tent as this was the only thing keeping me from a complete anxiety attack. Connecting each piece was like connecting a puzzle for me. It was scary, exhilarating and challenging all at the same time. Holy molly! I did it! Success. I was proud of myself. One of the reasons I was experiencing a limiting belief that I could not do this all by myself is the fact that I have Multiple Sclerosis which hampers my cognitive abilities. I sure kicked that belief out of the park!
Okay, so what’s next? I tried to make myself comfortable. I took off my boots and socks and started writing. I began to write about my observations and wishes for my life and my community. As I was sitting inside the tent, it was getting very warm as the sun was penetrating. I took off my sweaters as I was getting hotter by the minute. I continued writing about my mission statement. The idea and the state of mind that humanity can do better for one another. The notion that collectively, we can change the mindset of all by sharing joy, love and gratitude. That we can all live abundant lives free from harm and animosity. The idea that we all win and that we are all divinely aligned with our souls to create happiness and love for all humanity. Living daily in gratitude and serving with intention towards the needs of others always above our own. I felt so much love and joy during the day.
When night-fall arrived, it started getting very cold almost immediately. I put my sweaters and socks back on. I made sure that I went to the restroom (al fresco) before trying to sleep. I put on my beanie, but it was still so cold! I heard coyotes howling which was magical and scary at the same time. How far were they, I thought? It was pitch black out there. My little lantern was the only sign of light. My hands, nose and feet started freezing. I thought I was getting frostbite. It was about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. I realized I am a true novice to these elements. Having no idea what time it was and not able to sleep, I took to writing again. But then, I began to cry. I felt the misery of the freezing cold temperature and started thinking about how the homeless are faced with this everyday of their life (during winter months). I felt so much compassion for the homeless. How can they sleep when the elements are not on their side? I felt that we as a humanity failed them. In that moment, my vision became clearer. I will do my best to serve my community.
They say silence can be scary and confusing for some. I think the worst advice about silence is that it is a piece of cake and you can handle it no matter what. My silence gave me strength and clarity in my abilities to survive despite the elements. I wonder if it is the same for others?