I had the honor of sharing the Still, Small Voice Within Retreat with Clint Piatelli, who joined the adventure a day into it. If you're interested in reading an irreverent, refreshingly honest and authentic account of his time at Kripalu and on the retreat, look no further. This is an ongoing series. You can start here: A Virgin at Kripalu and read on from there.
Having practiced and led many, many silent retreats, I loved his account of the experience here:
Posted: 01 Aug 2013 06:28 AM PDT
I had never heard the term “social silence” before, but I immediately didn’t like it. I was at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, taking a course on meditation. Social silence meant that, outside of our scheduled class, I wasn’t suppose to talk. To anyone. About anything. The phrase actually scared me. Within a microsecond of hearing it, my mind projected isolation, loneliness, depression, and despair. Plus, it had a bad ring to it, like the word “rash”. And it sounded like an oxymoron.
. After hearing that they strongly recommend I practice social silence for the first few days of this new course I had just switched into, something inside of me got triggered. I wasn’t completely aware of what, but I suddenly became incredibly uneasy. All of a sudden, I completely regretted my decision to join this class.
. In the confines of my own mind, I reduced the term “social silence” to the acronym “SS” and began internally calling it that. Fully aware of the Nazi reference, it felt appropriate, considering the amount of fear and dread I was experiencing from hearing it.
, Moments before, I felt great about my decision to switch into this new course, believing I had landed just where I needed to be. Now, I literally wanted to bolt. Out the door. Out the class. Out of Kripalu. Out of what now felt like an insane asylum.
. Over the next few days, what started off as a fear became a reality. And an even bigger reality than I had first feared. I experienced not only loneliness and isolation and depression, but lots of other great stuff too. Self doubt. Self judgment. Self criticism. Pain. Self flagellation. What the hell had I gotten myself into? I didn’t need to come to Kripalu to experience that. I’m perfectly capable of creating that on my own, back home.
. Not only that, but because I couldn’t talk about how I felt with anyone, it was getting worse. I have always processed things through talking. The more I talk, and listen, and converse, the more able I am to move through stuff. And the more I’m able to connect. Now I wasn’t moving through anything, and I wasn’t connecting. At least it didn’t feel like I was. So I’m not only stuck, I’m lonely. All this shit is coming up, and I’m unable to tell anyone, save for my time in class, which offered relatively little room for that. I just had to sit with it. To be with it. To experience it. To allow it.
. And it was precisely in the being with it, in the allowing of it, that I got what I needed.
. Please stay tuned.
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Clint is a great writer and he's got a wealth of creative expressions on his site.