In reply to by Marye

Dear all,

I have meanwhile resurfaced from my ‘cave’, after 9 days in silence by myself in a cottage in the woods. What an absolutely enlightening and challenging experience at the same time it has been! It is hard to capture the depth of the ups and downs during the days in a few words here, so in addition to what I already shared before I will just share a few things that come to mind right now.

First of all, I would like to thank all of you who checked in with my posts here and for the responses, it really helped me through some of the difficult moments to tune into the Openhand website and occasionally share some of what was going on!

Furthermore, I was quite surprised how easy the fasting of just one raw meal at midday of just some fruits or veggies and dried fruits and nuts (with some occasional lentil crackers that weren’t raw) has been. There were only few moments that I really experienced ‘hunger’ and I felt that I had enough energy all this time. I have to say that as soon as I got back into the ‘real’ world, I could immediately notice a craving for denser foods just to dampen all the energetic turbulence of the 3D reality and I was quite shocked when I weighed myself upon return how many kgs I lost in just 9 days!

The days were filled with a rollercoaster mix of difficult moments alternating with beautiful moments of peace and clarity, as I shared before, I managed connect with a serene sense of feeling at home within myself at the beginning of the week that made the sitting quite enjoyable whenever I was able to tune into it (during the difficult moments it was hard to reconnect with this place). And I keep on being baffled by how quickly agony and serenity can flip sides without necessarily any prior notice or as a result of consciously working into the agony. Like one night I had great difficulty falling asleep, while my mind was going around in circles on something and my body tensed up because of it. The whole night I tried so many things to feel into it, to relax into it, but to no avail. When I abruptly woke up in the morning after just a few hours of sleep from the alarm I set to put the garbage bins outside that day, I felt absolutely depressed and with a strong tightness in my chest. This kept lingering on the whole morning until at some point I somehow managed to find a entry into whatever was going on, which felt like karma. Once I was fully in it, it probably didn’t take more than 10-15 minutes for the whole thing to dissipate, after which I had moved from absolute agony to calmness, which always perplexes my mind a bit (‘where did these feelings suddenly go? They can’t have just disappeared like that!’) and the sense of relief can be quite amazing.

There was also an inquiry about ‘rigidity’/self-discipline and the fine line between not becoming too rigid with myself with regards to for example the fasting and sitting periods, but at the same time not letting the ego hijack that as an excuse to become too loose with myself and give into usual patterns of distraction. I have a tendency to easily be hard on and beat myself up for not being self-disciplined enough, so for example when I ‘binged’ one evening with a few dry lentil crackers, that is immediately a reason to feel like a loser/failure in my endeavours and that by that point the whole purpose of the retreat has completely failed (which my ego can then easily hijack as an excuse to engage in more of the same, as I have already ‘failed’ anyway). And not being fully off the internet throughout the days was another reason to feel inadequate. In other words, I have a disproportionate focus on the areas where I could do better, rather than to focus on the many things I have actually achieved during those days (yes, the glass is always half empty!), such as just one raw meal a day and sitting in meditation for extensive periods in a row. I realized that too rigid self-discipline can actually become controlling and thus obstructing the flow of what naturally wants to happen, whereas when you loosen up on the self-discipline there is a risk of giving the ego an excuse to run its usual distortions. In other words, a very fine thread to walk!

You might wonder, so what did you now take away from these 9 days? Well, that is difficult to just summarize, but perhaps I can share a few points:

1) To keep consciously connecting with and embodying the sense of home and the energy of that, which I newly discovered.

2) To unravel my apartment and belongings in my country of birth in the near future, to create room for a new, yet unknown, destination on the horizon.

3) To remain a sense of fluidity and not get too fixated on a particular pathway.

 

I can definitely recommend such a period of total solitude somewhere in nature to everyone, but be prepared to face some of your demons!

I will leave you with this album that Youtube had synchronistically awaiting for me when I returned home! Maybe a new destination in the wild is calling!