Try exploring what it means to be quiet and listening on a 24-hour silent retreat. If you can, make this retreat in a place where you are not tempted to interact with others. You are encouraged to turn off or leave behind electronic devices. Be generous to God and to yourself in the spaciousness. Feel free to rest and sleep as you need to.
What are the gifts given and difficulties experienced in prayer during this time of retreat?
Before your experience:
- Let go of expectations
Commit yourself to joining the silent retreat with an open heart. Become aware of your expectations and let them go. Trust your inner wisdom to guide you into retreat.
- Befriend silence
Silence can feel isolating, lonely, and stressful. Take time to intentionally befriend silence before you go. Prepare yourself to be without your electronic devices. Putting them on “silent” doesn’t count!
- Embrace solitude
If you’re used to always having people around, begin to search out solitary activities before your retreat. Become aware of the gifts of solitude before engaging your retreat time.
During the retreat:
- Books and articles
Feel free to bring a book or an article but be careful that you don’t use them as a distraction. Rather, read until you find a sentence or phrase that resonates with you and then practice lectio.
- Prayer Practices
Take note of what prayer practices connect most deeply with you. Take extended time to cultivate these practices. Engage your creative self. Paint, draw, collage. Be intentional about practices that give you life.
When you are going about your day, taking a walk, before going to sleep, become aware of the gift of listening. Listen to what is in your immediate surroundings. Then stretch your ear to a wider circumference. Listen as far away as possible. Use listening to help you stay in the present moment.
Even if it is not a usual practice, journal to get clarity about the feelings that arise for you. Notice what keeps your attention at the surface. Be honest with yourself about your feelings. Journal about any awareness you would like to remember.
Take time to become aware of your body. Become mindful of your body as you walk or eat or rest. Movement will be important in your day. Feel free to take a nap.
- Trust the process
You may be tempted to wonder, “What’s the point of this silence and solitude?” Become aware of the doubt. Trust that silence and solitude have a long and rich tradition in deepening our experience of God and ourselves. Stay curious.