Silence is Peanut Butter
A new bad at yoga segment called Tori Stories.
There are a few stories I could tell about that first silent retreat in India in 2008 but I think this is my favorite.
I got it into my silly western brain that the best way to do this retreat was on my own- no teachers and no support. Y'know, just lock myself in a room for ten days, deal with my shit, and then emerge a transcendent being of light n' stuff. Awesome!
Upon arriving at the Santosh Puri ashram this hard core introspection I was told that while there I would only be fed twice a day. Great, I thought, in addition to deepening my yoga and meditation practice, I'll also loose some weight! Because those two always go hand in hand, right? I knew at the time I was an emotional eater but thought somehow that this, like all my problems, hadn't followed me to the exotic local. Silly Rabbit.
So, armed only with my neurosis and a smuggled in jar of peanut butter I set out to become the John Wayne of bodhisattvas in ten days. Ten days. Ok, I tell people it was ten days, I actually only lasted seven. Six if you count talking to a dog.
The first few days I mostly daydreamed and it was all bliss. Day three my mind inevitably got bored, looked back at itself and said "ew." Shit got real fast and I started feeling all the feelings. I mean ALL the feelings. I had spent the fist 26 years of my life eating my feelings. Feeling them was new. I didn't like it. Bring on the peanut butter.
An image that will stick with me forever is me sitting alone in my wee ashram room, dressed all in white, having just completed the daily puja... a perfect enlightened selfie scene except for that I'm crying, freaking out, and using the handle of a toothbrush to try and scrape the last bits of peanut butter out the bottom of a jar. Talk about #nofilter My silence didn't last long after that.
In the years since I've sat in organized silent retreats it really is an amazing experience. Don't get me wrong- there are always days so uncomfortable I want to eat my pillow but I have the wisdom of a teacher whose been doing this for 20 plus years to help me hold steady.
Lesson: While my growth as person is ultimately a solo endeavor and my responsibility alone; without guidance or help along the way I'm a just making an ass of myself.