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Updated: Jul 1, 2022

A silent retreat is not an isolated event. There is a string of events, internal and external developments which prompt the call for silent sitting. There is the silent retreat. There is the flow of life which unfolds after the retreat.

There is an attempt to arrest some impressions and notions of the retreat which lies one week behind me. The experience has been simmering, boiling down to its essence.

Meandering thoughts, lines of poetry, faces, attachments, farewells, a parade of associations drifting in and out, sensing an undercurrent, a connection of dots once felt as isolated events suddenly appear in coherence. A calmness envelops me. Suddenly perceiving what embracing myself entails. Reconnecting with aspects of myself I have approached with impatience in the past.

A sense of full acceptance, a fluttering moment, gone already. A short encounter with peace followed by restlessness, where I am so much more familiar with. Nevertheless, the short moments fuelled me up. I enjoyed not getting caught up in thoughts or emotions, the drifting.

Sitting together in silence, listening to life-affirming dharmatalks from Hamid who eloquently combines buddhism, philosophy and poetry. It is a soothing experience, an inner dialogue exposed in open air: full recognition, a spiritual homecoming.

Finding the breath while walking slowly step by step. In, lift, step, full weight, out, repeat. Sitting together, supporting each other in silence, stolen glances, smiles, recognition and difference, united for a week in a communal solo research project. A week, a stepping stone in a string of developments, the next steps are alone, without the silent support of the group. And that is life.

Hannie Dekker

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