As I write this, I'm surrounded by piles of clothes and blankets, ready to be rolled up and tucked into my bright pink suitcase as I take off on what might be the craziest journey I've ever been on: a 10 day silent meditation retreat.
When I tell people that I'm going, they assume it's some sort of glamourous yoga situation: hours of practice with a sprinkle of meditation, glorious fruit plates and a big pool and "spirituality lite." I wish. Man, do I wish.
Instead, I'm leaving for a hardcore, wake-up-at-4-AM-meditate-10-hours-a-day "retreat." The entire goal is noble silence: no eye contact, no touching, no reading, no writing, no communication of any sort, with any human being. NO iPHONE. I don't even know.
If you know me, you know I'm a communicator. It's something I pride myself on. I am the person who will reach out to make plans. I rarely let a text go unacknowledged. I show up. I love to share how I'm feeling with those closest to me and I like to think I'm a decent listener. I believe in the power of being vulnerable, that connection matters and that we have incredible power to love and care for those around us, and we should. I believe that the world owes us nothing, but boy, we owe the people in our lives the world.
And yet. There's been something missing for me for awhile. Just over a year ago, I spent several days in bed, paralyzed with sadness. And while I've been able to get out of bed these days, that sadness and longing has not completely dissipated. I've tried yoga and running and therapy and talking and mantras and chocolate, and here I am, with some really beautiful good days and some days when I feel so lost I can barely breathe.
One thing I've figured out about myself this year is that I'm really good at showing up for others, but I'm pretty terrible at showing up for myself. This means that often times, my life feels like a roller coaster I'm not in control of: am I feeling loved? Did I get a good reaction? Is there more that I can do? I want to share my feelings --- but not if it will upset you. I want what I want --- but not as badly as I want you to have what you want. I want to be happy --- but I want you to be happy even more.
It's exhausting. Because a big not-so-secret life secret I'm figuring out is that people will hurt you, usually unintentionally. People who love you will make you feel like you don't matter, and people who you love deeply will change their mind, and it can all feel so unbelievably painful. And when you're living in a way that makes these things paramount to your happiness? Whoa. It's impossible to ever feel like you have a firm grasp on who you are and what really matters.
A year and a half ago, I had the opportunity to complete about 40 hours of silence with lots of meditation. When I finished, I felt so free and so clear. I was so angry and resistant to doing it, but when it was over, I felt like I had released things inside of me that I didn't know I was still clinging to. I felt something open up in me.
Many people (basically everyone in my life, really) has asked me the same questions: WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? I've heard everything from it sounds like a waste of time to it's impossible that I'll even make it to the idea that this must be a cult. And I try to explain, because even though I'm TERRIFIED --- more terrified than I've ever been about a trip --- I'm going.
I'm going because I need a break from the things that consume my mind most days. I'm going because deep down in my bones, I know that this is what I need to do to move forward in my yoga practice and in my journey towards being my best self. I'm going because I find peace in meditation, as painful as that is for me to admit and as much as I resist it. I'm going because I want to get clear on who and what matters to me, and how I want to live. I'm going because I want to get out of the energy of others in my life and get into who I am, deep down, without any sort of anything from other people.
I'm going because I hear over and over again that the love and the answers and the truth I'm seeking so desperately already exist inside of me, and I want to find them so badly.
I'm going because I want to show up for myself, and this seems like the way to do it.
I'll see you on the flip side, hopefully full of more love, compassion and self-acceptance than I can even dream of right now.