“Silence is essential. We need silence, just as much as we need air, just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts, there is no space for us” 

Thich Nhat Hanh

Hello friend – you’re here – welcome

This day retreat is in association with The Heart Movement – if you’re interested please register here any questions contact Joe

So below is the info Kareem and I have put together for it. It’s an experiment, the first time we’ve done it and we are delighted to have you with us

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Stillness and renewal- a silent day retreat

Join Joe and Kareem for a silent day retreat for deepening stillness and renewal at the start of the new year. A silent day retreat is a precious gift we can offer ourselves, a radical act of pausing and a rare opportunity to create a clearing in our life for reflection and renewal. When we step back from our daily roles, routines and habits, there is a chance to pause, take a step back and listen to what’s underneath the surface of our lives.

A silent day also offers us the benefit of experiencing a period of sustained mindfulness practice, which means an opportunity to deepen connection to ourselves and be in touch with our experience as it unfolds. On this day we will also follow the wisdom of this seasonal cycle which invites us to rest in the space of darkness and quiet, the clearing where life rests, renews itself and re emerges from again. 

Our experience will be supported by a rich schedule and a community to share the day with. We will explore a variety of practices, reflective activities, journaling and different opportunities to turn our home environment into a space of nourishment contemplation. There will also be the chance to experience longer periods of meditation and a consistent flow of structured activities to be held by. 

“Silence is essential. We need silence, just as much as we need air, just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts, there is no space for us” 

Thich Nhat Hanh

We will begin with an opening session on the evening of the 29th of January to share our intentions, prepare ourselves and connect with our community. We will begin our full day on Saturday the 30th at 7:30 am and close by 5pm. The day will include lots of breaks and time away from the screen, including periods for being outdoors. 

This retreat is most suitable for people who have some mindfulness experience and an established practice, but all are welcome. We will be actively encouraging everyone to take care of their wellbeing and regularly check in with our needs during the day.

Sample schedule:

Friday opening session & orientation: 8-9 PM  

Saturday:

7:30-8:15  Morning practice and instructions

8:15-10- Free time 

10-11- Morning practice period and reflections   

           (talk, meditation, movement, journalling, etc) 

11-12- Walking period 

1:00 Lunch (optional communal)

2:00- Deep relaxation

3:00- Afternoon practice period and reflections

4:00- Invitation to share and closing session

As a new calendar year begins, we are surrounded by the same narratives and stories about leaping into new beginnings, setting intentions, visioning and building plans. While this serves a purpose, in the cycle of the natural world, seeds are still resting deep in the quiet earth and life continues to lay still and hibernate. If we turn inward we might find that we are also in sync with these natural rhythms and in need of more space as we emerge into a new year. 

Our theme for this month is “Taking time out” and we’re offering a radical opportunity to deepen this pause at the threshold of this new year. A silent day retreat offers us a chance to create a clearing in our life for reflection and renewal. When we take a step back from our daily roles, routines and habits, there is the possibility for deeper connection with ourselves and a space to listen to what’s underneath the surface of our daily life.

Why silence?

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” 

Virginia Woolf, The Waves

We chose the quotes here, Virginia Woolf and Thich Nhat Hanh amongst many we love about silence, to give 2 perspectives from 2 people we admire greatly who amidst huge personal challenges found solace in silence and touched many with their relationships to it. Silence has for us been an invaluable resource in difficult times, especially in this era of great questioning and uncertainty. We are looking forward to share something from our experience and love of this with the heart movement community

Sustained mindfulness

One of the most valuable aspects of a silent day retreat is having sustained mindfulness practice over a longer period of time. This is something we don’t often get to taste in daily life when we are just fitting some time to pause around our day. Building a consistency of practice and doing different types of meditation allows us to drop deeper and connect with the flow of our experience.

Community support

Days of silence and extended practice can feel intimidating or finding the discipline can be too difficult. Having a community with us through the experience makes it possible because we feel connected and supported in our solitude and practice, just like we would on an in-person retreat. Another bonus is we get to turn our home environment into a space of nourishment and contemplation!

What will it look like? 

We’ll be doing a variety of mindfulness practices, including guided sitting periods, walking, movement, resting as well as opportunities for reflection and journaling on the theme of renewal. We’ll begin Saturday for some introductions and intention setting and we’ll close by Sunday evening to break the silence and share our experiences. 

How to prepare?

Do your best to set aside the time and physical space to take this time for yourself. We would also encourage you to attend some morning mindfulness sessions and also to take some silent half an hour walks around your area. With both preparatory exercises hold this word: observing. Observing colours, temperature, body sensations, sounds. Get familiar with this as a practice for us to continue together.

We are excited about the schedule we are preparing which we feel will hold a rich time for us all. We are looking forward to be with you both in the comfort of your own homes and the experience of a silent journey together.

If the idea of a day’s silence is scary that’s ok. It’s not usual is it?! Whether you feel this way, intrigued or even delighted, we are here for you and will be there with you. Joe Holtaway and Kareem Ghandour 

A beloved picture of Kareem and I together at a retreat some years ago hugging a big green cushion!

Your hosts 🙂

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