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The Power of Silence in Retreat

Grand Teton Mountains

By Scott Masciarelli

Four years ago - to the month - I embarked on a transition which would become "my life experience." I retired from a long corporate career and left behind not only work I knew for over 24 years but a family, friends and lifestyle. The decision to take the early retirement was easy as I had been considering it for quite a while. I knew that this was a major turning point in my life so, as such, I recall wanting to do things differently. At the prompting of a good friend who said "come join a silent retreat I'm going to."

I thought, how bizarre, a silent retreat? What were we going to do? Why would I want to do such a thing, pay money and invest one week of my life in something called a silent retreat? I didn't know any of those answers but the one thing I did know was that I wanted to create a definite line between what was and what will be. This seemed so off the wall that it was the perfect way to create that distinction.

Five days after retiring I landed in stunning, sunny Jackson Hole and met the 13 others with whom I would be sharing a multi-million dollar mansion with in silence for the coming week. The rules of the retreat were simple, we could only speak in our sacred group meeting room (all seated in a circle) from 10a to 12n and then from 4p to 6p. The topics during those hours were whatever surfaced at that time. Trust was a keyword during this experience.

All other time together in the home was in strict silence. OK, there was the occasional whisper "please cut the onion or pass the butter" but for the majority of our time mum was the word. We lived together, cooked together and dined together all in silence. It was beautiful. There was no pressure, no stress, no wonder and no questions to ask. What was present was peace and connection at a very deep soul level.

Interestingly it was not until the final night, during our farewell dinner, that we could break the silence in the home. It was that evening we learned what each person did for a profession and where they were from. The result was anti-climactic at best. It didn't really matter to me that there were some influential people in our group. We had become so close at the soul level that all of the other "stuff" was not even remotely important.

What was important that was that for each of us healing began in a way that we did not know. Some of us didn't know why we were there but we soon found out. I became violently ill during my stay and for over 24 hours was with fever. Our facilitator advised me that I was releasing all of the toxins of my corporate life. I firmly believe this and once I passed through that phase the bizarre retreat took on an entirely different meaning for me; one of purification, wholeness welcoming a new beginning.
It was a powerful week in the dramatic Teton Mountains of Jackson Hole, Wyoming with people who I would never see again. The clarity, peace and completeness received were far more than I ever envisioned when I signed up.

Fast forward four years and I am having a similar silent retreat. This time not because I signed up for one, but because I became ill, then during the recovery lost my voice. Not being able to speak has made it incredibly easy to be silent. Further, if there was a time for a perfect storm it is now and its name is Jonas. The blizzard of 2016 which has pounded the east coast of the United States and dumped over 33 inches (87cm) of fluffy white snow on my hometown in Virginia. For the entire weekend that also made it very easy to stay inside, slow down, reflect and be silent.

I am marveling at what a phenomenal three days this has been in my home, relaxing, focused, reflecting and taking care of little projects that I have put off for many months and years. The snow demanded that we all stay inside since the conditions were too severe to venture outside and roads needed to be kept clear for snow removal and emergency vehicles. I welcomed this and embraced my homestay as a chance to simply be.

The power of silence can be found right at home or at a structured retreat. I have found both extremely beneficial and encourage you to practice silence as often as you can. Embrace the peace, release the need to speak and simply be. Name it as a daylong silent retreat or join a retreat. However you choose to embrace silence I am confident you will enjoy the peaceful results.

Scott Masciarelli, PCC,BCC is a Global Leadership coach and trainer and multilingual avid world traveler. He partners with executives and expatriates to support both their personal and professional leadership growth. Scott's clients achieve success on their terms.

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This post first appeared on Joy Zone, please read the originial post: here

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The Power of Silence in Retreat


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