As you may know, last December, Geoff booked me in for six, twenty-four silent retreats this year - one every month for the first six months of the year. The purpose was respite-oriented, given how much I was struggling at the time with the big change in our life, h/schooling, etc etc etc. I'm currently on my fourth twenty-four hour retreat.
The difference between my first silent retreat in January and the one I'm on now is incredible. I came to my first retreat (the second one, too) utterly exhausted. I was spent. Done...emotionally much more so than physically. During the first two retreats, I basically slept and watched mindless videos and wrote a wee bit, too. I arrived with a deep sense of desperation.
The last time I was here, a few weeks ago, I could already feel a difference - it was like I started the twenty-four hours with a little more 'gas in the tank' so that the time I spent here was a little more oriented towards rejuvenation and margin-building, rather than trying to claw my way out of a pit to a more even keel. Does that make sense?
This time, even more so than last time, I came into it yesterday afternoon feeling pretty ok. I brought stuff with me to do, a short list of things to think about, and a short list of things to start planning. I didn't sleep all that well last night, despite the comfortable bed, but I did have a nap yesterday evening for about two hours. I feel ok, this time, about going home again this afternoon...in fact, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.
One thing that I'm learning by coming to this quiet place of rest is that when I'm feeling tired, I should just drop whatever I'm doing and let myself sleep - and I say 'let myself' because I'm not a napper...never have been. It's very hard for me, when I'm feeling tired, to give up on what I should be doing and just let myself rest. But I did it last time I was here, and I did it yesterday...and I can feel the benefit in my energy level and clear-headedness this morning. Who knows - maybe I'll become a weekend napper at home some day, too!
I was also able, last night and early this morning, to focus quite a lot of mental energy on thinking about each of my kids and where they're at. I noted a few things that I can work on with each of them and a few things that I want to let them know how much I value about them. I thought about each kid in terms of schooling needs, too, and did a bunch of planning for them (especially for Matthew and Seth), and a little bit of bigger-picture vision-casting.
It's pretty incredible to be feeling sooo much better than I was just a few short months ago. My emotions feel healthier, I'm not as exhausted, and even my brain feels sharper again - the difference is amazing. I can't take this increased sense of 'margin' for granted, and know better than ever about myself that I need to take care of myself, too, in the whole chaotic mess that is family and h/schooling life! What a relief to be on this side of things.
Now I'm going to walk across the hall to the silent floor's kitchenette area and make myself a cup of tea. I haven't even seen anyone else on the silent floor this weekend. Maybe I'll do a puzzle in the lounge, or maybe I'll read my book. Maybe I'll have another nap. Ahh...decisions decisions....