A week ago, I existed in silence. External not internal silence. I attended a six-day silent retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in the hills of Marin. The experience is one of those that is extremely difficult to explain in words, but I will try my best.

Walking through the gates into the retreat area was like walking into a different dimension. Everything surrounding me was created with love. I could feel the healing energy before the retreat even began. Sitting with your thoughts and emotions is beyond difficult. Meditation is really an exercise for your mind, an extremely challenging and frustrating exercise. When I saw the schedule – a mix of sitting and walking meditation – I realized this wasn’t going to be a relaxing vacation. Gone were my visions of strolling in the rolling hills with my new deer friends. Instead, I was embarking on a serious journey into the depths of my inner consciousness. Everything that had been repressed came to the front. All the conflicting, confusing emotions would be shown the light. Even things that I thought didn’t concern me anymore became apparent. It was just me and my thoughts: good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. All at once. Understanding the idea of “letting go” because nothing is permanent. One minute I am crying with memories of sadness and the next I am smiling with memories of playfulness. Just, this time, I was very present and aware of the changes.

As I am integrating back into the fast paced and busy society, I see how quickly I can embrace my old habits and ways. How even the simple act of waking up can affect the rest of the day. How the words I use, the people I see, and the sun can affect my mood. But, only if I am unaware. With mindfulness and awareness it is possible to understand and appreciate each moment for its uniqueness. No day will be the same, no person will act the same way, I will always feel different. These skills will no doubt be the tools in my toolbox that I will have to use while navigating the unknown world of Kampala. As I get stuck in traffic, wait for hours for a meeting, and feel confusion about the nature of the world that we live in.

I recommend a silent retreat for everyone! The world would benefit from more people liberated from their mental slavery. Please ask me if you have any questions. I am by no means an expert, but I can tell you about my experience.