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Silent Meditation/Work Retreat Day

By Glen

One recent addition to the weekly schedule here on the quinta is a day of silence, or a meditation / work retreat. The day is made up of four meditations, interspersed with the normal work schedule. Everyone finds something they can do without communication, and we decide the night before who will prepare meals. During the day there is no talking or eye contact, and when Pete blows the Polish birdsong whistle we all gather for meditation. We also refrain from reading or listening to music, and silence is held until after meditation the next morning. This was something we were all excited to do because of the increased energy arising in the project.

For me, the first day of silence began in a very relaxing way. Without the normal distractions I really noticed the beauty of where I was, the birds chirping, the river rushing, and I was able to focus my attention on rebuilding a stone path, which was very enjoyable work.

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As the day went on and people kept passing me on the path, going about their tasks, a shift happened. I began to pay attention to a paranoid thought pattern. I thought I wasn’t working hard enough, or the path wasn’t good enough, or everyone was angry with me… These were just thoughts and looking back I can see where they most likely came from: the ego’s desire for affirmation.

It is normal to appreciate someone else’s work as you pass them during the day, and on our regular days this happens, but this was a day of silence. As people saw my work in progress and walked passed silently, some part of me took offense to that, even though I knew we couldn’t speak. I became paranoid because
there was a lack of affirmation from others.

This is why silence is important: it brought to light deeply rooted habits I did not notice before. Now I can recognize and choose not to support them. I know when I am giving the work the care it deserves, and I shouldn’t be dependent on others to affirm that. Discovering this need for affirmation and discrediting it really made a difference on that day and the days since. It was there all the time; it just took silence and observation to uncover it. Cynthia later told me that it was hard not

to tell me how well the path was coming along, but I am glad she stayed silent!

Last Wednesday we had our second weekly day of silence, and I had a much easier experience. The whole day felt like a retreat; I was able to just be. I enjoyed the work even more than usual, and seemingly got a lot more done. Meditation was also a lot deeper and more relaxing. Billy was painting the meditation room, so we meditated outside on our newly uncovered deck (since we moved the yurt).

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It was great to be outside meditating in the nice weather! Nina and Tux decided to join us as well, although Tux (world´s most talkative cat) has a big problem with silent days!

Glen

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