In silence

This year in late August, instead of going back to burning man like I had first planned, I finally opted for a silent retreat upstate new york.  There is quite a gap between what might be the utmost social extravagant experience and being in silence of the woods, alone.
Some people were surprised by my decision; others told me “i could never do that”.  And yet, this was probably one of the most profound and healing experience that was given to me.
Yes it is scary, because there is no escaping yourself.  There are no distractions, but the sound of nature – the water stream against the rocks, the wind in the trees, and mosquitos celebrating your presence.
And yet, what a gift!
First (though burning man has this in common with a silent retreat), it’s a time out of time, with no electronic devices, no emails, texts or calls to answer.  The mere fact of being unable to respond relieves from caring about anything that is not present in that moment, which is an important first step.
But a silent retreat allows to go further than that.  Not speaking means not having to express an identity, not having to present oneself as “doing this, being that”.  Separating from that self-projected identity felt very beneficial.
There is nothing else but what is.
The retreat itself didn’t consist in just hanging out it nature all day long with a book – like I had first fantasized about.  Because I was doing this in the context of a spiritual center, I had a guide walking me through the process, allowing me to set intentions, and dive deeper into what I was there for.  It was also a great occasion to slow down, and re prioritize, living each minute for that very minute.
Being surrounded by Nature was also a beautiful way to reconnect with myself.  My sensations felt more vivid, and my body more alive; the sound of the wind in the trees was music, the stream of water was laughter, the light of the sun brought me such joy…
Though the retreat only lasted a few days, its effects have profoundly impacted me and I know I will be back sooner or later for another time in the woods.