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50 Thoughts from My Silent Retreat

In the beginning of this year I was facing a turning point in my life. Having sold HRThatWorks and ended my employment with ThinkHR I now get to reinvent myself at 60. I knew I needed some “space” to get my head clear so I did a 5 day silent retreat, spending my days inside a 10 foot circle and my nights in a cabin with no TV or cellphone service. I ate nothing after the first day to help cleanse mind and body.

Part of that process was to meditate every day for as long as it took to quiet myself. Giving that “space” to your personal development is an amazing experience and provided me with clarity.

Here are a few thoughts that surfaced. They come in no order, other than how they popped up into my head.

1. It’s great to watch the sunrise…and sunset.
2. It’s amazing how we have monkey brains. On the first day, I couldn’t get my mind to shut up …at all. Then as every day progressed there was less and less conversation going on internally, and more presence and beingness. By the third day I could calm my mind entirely…and just be. Like the fly that landed on my table, the bird singing in the tree or squirrel hopping by.
3. There are no unconditional relationships. There is only unconditional love.
4. Every relationship can only take so much tension. Even rubber bands snap eventually.
5. You learn both good and bad habits from our parents. Do not bring their bad habits into your relationships.
6. There’s a reason they are called fairy tales.
7. Few people really want to work on themselves.
8. Complacency kills a marriage. Be pro-active, not just reactive, in your relationships.
9. Half of all marriages fail. What do you think is going on in the other half?
10. There’s nothing like the sound of families and children playing.
11. I do not have all the answers – which is ok – nobody does. Likewise, I can’t solve all problems – nobody can. All I can do is try my best and try to improve what that is.
12. Everybody makes sacrifices in a relationship; however, sacrifice should not lead to suffering.
13. Speak for yourself in a relationship as nobody is a mind-reader.
14. There’s a big difference between helping someone and doing it for them. The latter is disabling unless it is an emergency.
15. Simply causing no harm does not mean you have been responsible.
16. A “perfect” self-image can limit your ability to take responsibility.
17. Meditation is boring! Hard when you have adult ADD.
18. If you harbor your resentments, it’s impossible to move a relationship forward. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Let go, let go, let go.
19. When things come to people too easily, they can easily be taken for granted.
20. I make a hell of a lot of mistakes.
21. I can be guilty of micro-criticism. Of nit picking. Of sweating the small stuff.
22. Make the best of a bad situation.
23. Trust relates to past activity. Faith relates to future ones. We have more faith in those we trust.
24. I+I ≠ We.
25. Opposites attract so they can learn their lessons.
26. I do not manage my emotions as well as I would like to. Does anyone?
27. When relationships don’t grow, they die.
28. I have a short attention span! Squirrel! Fly! It takes time for the mind to calm itself.
29. Out of the roughest of circumstances, something beautiful can grow.
30. Time moves slowly when doing nothing. I feel like Thoreau at Walden Pond.
31. If sitting in silence for any length of time or fasting feels like torture, I can only imagine what forced silence and real torture feels like.
32. You plan for the future so you can relax in the present.
33. When you change your behavior, you change your attitude. Behavior comes first. Actions speak louder than words.
34. You can’t be partially committed if you want a great relationship.
35. Money is only that.
36. If something feels unfair, you must deal with it or it becomes cancerous.
37. Out of the darkness comes the light.
38. The fact I am here is a miracle. I must never forget that! Everyone else is a miracle too. Don’t forget that either!
39. We are here for such a short time.
40. Even mountains die – as will the sun, moon and stars.
41. Only the blessed few are gifted with the passion to do something meaningful. Most people find their passion in their families and their distractions – which I guess is ok too.
42. Just how does a soul acquire a body?
43. It is hard to see yourself.
44. Nobody should ever have to go hungry. I’m donating to the Hunger Project.
45. Don’t throw out your plastic and bottles in the recycle bin. Save them and give them to the poor so they can take them to a recycle center and maybe buy food to eat.
46. Thinking is not doing.
47. Why don’t people change? Because maybe it’s not their idea, they don’t feel capable of it, they don’t care to, they don’t think they need to, they are afraid to – and if the other person’s not willing to change, then why should I?
48. You cannot justify irresponsibility.
49. Nature wants me to evolve in the present.
50. When you sit in silence long enough, you get to a place where you just are.
Like I said this was a clarifying experience. The longest I have sat in silence in my life. Took me to a place I had not experienced in 60 years. If ever a question about the experience don’t hesitate to ask me about it.

PS here’s a great guide on fasting from Dave Asprey https://www.bulletproofexec.com/bulletproof-intermittent-fasting-the-definitive-guide/