Hello my friend! It has been a few months since I’ve written you and I wanted to check in and send you some warmth and well wishes (genuine ones!) And I also wanted to share some things that have helped me adjust to the colder months and shorter days. This is something that I have found significantly helpful and perhaps it’s something you’d like to try?
What I’m talking about is: silence. Ha! You probably think that I’m being silly but I’m not. Silence can do wonders for the mind and body and I’m talking about the real deal; tech-free, distraction-free silence. Have you ever thought of going on a silent retreat? Well, if you have, I’ve recently returned from my third silent retreat in Northern Ontario and do I ever have a lot to share with you upon my return. Oh, the irony!
As mentioned previously, I am a mindfulness practitioner and so practicing mindfulness is how I spend my time while in silence. In the past, when I’ve shared with friends and colleagues that I go on silent retreats, many of them ask about details. They also say things like; "How do you stay silent for the whole time?" "Does anyone break the silence?" and "How can I go on a retreat?" So, I thought I’d share my experiences with the hope of giving you some insight. Then you can determine if it is the right thing for you. One thing I can share is that I truly love them. They are not the easiest, but the benefits are wonderful, and they have lasting effects. That’s why I keep going back.
Here are some suggestions for how to prepare for your first silent retreat:
1. Do some research: Look at some of the retreat centres in your area. Find out about the space, where you will be staying and what values they have on the property. Notice what is asked of you while you are there. (i.e., giving back in some way such as offering your time or giving a charitable donation).
2. Find the right teacher: This one is important. I’ve heard of friends signing up for silent retreats without researching the instructor and then, they end up not connecting with what is being taught. Even though you'll be in silence, there is a daily schedule and talks to attend so you'll want to make sure they resonate. You can plan for this by looking into the instructor's work ahead of time and attending a lecture or info session they offer beforehand.
3. Think of what you really need to bring: Other than items that suit the weather, you’ll realize that less is more here. Phones and all things techy will be turned off so you can focus your time solely on you. And this lets you off the hook for a few days. Isn’t that lovely?
4. Try some personal silent time before you go: This is a big one. I understand this can be challenging as family/work/life can get loud but even just one day (perhaps on the weekend) without technology is a great start.
5. Learn about mindfulness: Many silent retreat centres are based around mindfulness practice and as such, it’s a good idea to learn what’s all about before jumping into the deep end. You can refer to my very first newsletter for tips on how to get started. https://tinyletter.com/Dena_Jackson/letters/mindfully-coming-back-to-life-1
And now for the fun stuff. The benefits! What are some of the benefits, you ask? Well, let me tell you as I’d absolutely love to share.
Some of the benefits I’ve experienced include, returning home and not wanting to jump back on screens. I’ve also learned when my phone addiction kicks in (usually at around 11am daily) and that it only takes five days to kick, not bad! I’ve learned that I love nature and can appreciate it so much more in silence. And that silence is of course, when the animals (groundhogs, bunnies, turtles and deer) come out to say hello! I’ve learned that I really like being in silence, something I thought I’d hate. I’ve had opportunities to advance my mindfulness practice and I’ve deepened my feelings of genuine gratitude.
The list goes on and I guess it goes without saying that I’m already thinking about my next retreat. Feel free to give this some thought and send me a message if you have any questions about this. I love talking about this kind of thing, so please know that it will not be a bother. Plus, I will be so happy to know that this is something you plan on doing to help improve your own wellbeing. Until next time, thank you for reading this. I’ll message you again in a couple months. – DJ
1. I offer children’s yoga classes with: Little Yogis: https://www.littleyogistoronto.com/
2. I have opened up my reiki practice to the public! Here is a link to my new website where you can book in person and virtual treatments: https://www.reikiwithdena.com/
• Here is a link to an interview I did about my reiki practice: https://gosolo.subkit.com/reiki-with-dena/
Here are some upcoming live comedy events:
1. December 1st: Comedy Bar, 9pm 945 Bloor St https://comedybar.ca/
2. December 9th: Jokers Comedy Club, 8pm 115 York Boulevard https://www.jokers.ca/
3. December 10th: Jokers Comedy Club, 8pm 115 York Boulevard https://www.jokers.ca/
4. December 17th: Comedy Bar, 7pm 945 Bloor St https://comedybar.ca/