We as ABQ YAVs spent this past weekend on a silent retreat at the beautiful Norbertine Community here in Albuquerque. The Saturday of silence started with morning prayer at the Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey, followed by 10 hours of silence, and then evening prayer once again at the Abbey. There was quite a bit of build up and anticipation for this silent retreat because being left alone with your own thoughts for 10 hours seems a little scary but I was looking forward to the experience. The silence provided a nice opportunity to turn my phone off and to choose to be present and aware of God while knowing the rest of the world continued to live their lives as just another day and that everything would be okay.
The idea of engaging in complete silence, thinking of nothing and just being is not new to me. Unfortunately, I am often forced to use the meditative and biofeedback practices of focusing on nothing, blocking out the world (especially pain), and focusing inward when I get migraines. For those of you who aren’t familiar with biofeedback, it is a technique used to learn to control some of your body’s functions such as heart rate by monitoring yourself by using electrical sensors. Biofeedback was presented to me as a way to manage pain by focusing on my whole well-being meaning body, mind, and spirit and has been highly useful to me not just to control pain but to relax.
When I experience migraines and have taken my medication the only thing I can do is just sit and be in silence. I can concentrate to relax one muscle at a time, use internal imagery in order slow my breathing and open blood vessels to increase blood flow in my body and get rid of the bright aura colors I often see. Biofeedback and meditation are two practices I quickly learned and put into practice when I was 14 and have since perfected due to necessity but I always like to have the opportunity to them into practice for enjoyment as well.
Taking intentional time to just be with nothing to do and nowhere to go in what otherwise is a relatively busy and scheduled life provided a nice peaceful space for deep relaxation. I didn’t bring any activities to do except for two books to read. We had nice weather this weekend so I time enjoying the meditative walking path as well as just sitting outside. I liked embracing the silence. I am not going to pretend this retreat was some life-changing experience for me or that I think continuous hours of silence will reveal some deep insights for you. The silence was nice, peaceful, calming, centering and relaxing. Being in silence isn’t something you need to go on a retreat to do but being in our intentional community before and after the silence added to the experience.
Simple silent breathing techniques and meditative practices are things I like to include in my day to day life at work and before I go to sleep as a way of remaining grounded, centered and calm. For Lent, I will be taking on an increase in the amount of time I set aside for meditation each day. I would encourage you to try to increase your relaxation and meditation time in an effort to know that you are loved by just being.