Just one week ago, I spent 4 days in a monastery with a good friend. This was the second time I went to a place like this and it was a good choice to return to the same location.
I want to share 5 reasons to have some silent time yourself. There are several ways to do this, I will leave it to you to find a place that fits your personal beliefs. However, if you truly want to do something like this, schedule it today!
1. Reconnect with yourself
Taking a couple of days of me time can really be a good way to ask yourself some questions you were putting off. What are my goals in life? Where do I want to see myself one year from now? It is a great time to reflect. Even if you aren’t spiritual, in an environment where people think and meditate those concepts will come to you.
2. Invest time in friendship
A day in a monastery consists of sleeping, visiting the chapel once in every couple of hours, eating and a lot of time for yourself. Because the day starts early in most monasteries, there is plenty of time. Going with a good friend will help you get trough the silent days, but it can also be a great time to get to know each other on a deeper level. We spent most of our afternoons in the woods, walking and talking about the year that went by and everything that’s ahead of us. An environment like that can really take your friendship to a next level.
Almost everyone I know has a long list of books they want to read. One of the things I have been trying to do is block some time each day to read. However, there are few things I like more than waking up and knowing I am able to spend a couple of hours with books I really want to finish. Collect some of the books you want to read, lock yourself up for a couple of days in silence and enjoy.
4. Rethink your daily schedule
Everyone has a routine. Routines are good, because you are able to execute a routine almost without thinking. That way, you can save your valuable brainpower for things that really require your full attention. I always like the story of Barack Obama (read this if you're interested), who always wears either a blue or gray suit to avoid decision fatigue. You could limit the amount of choices to make in the morning by preparing what to wear or what to eat the night before.
The routines in a monastery are great. Monks don’t need to think about what to wear, because they have a single outfit. They don’t need to decide to cook or to go out for dinner because it is served at a fixed time. They don’t need to discuss on who should do the dishes this time, because they have a schedule for it. Schedules might make you feel uncomfortable, but they can also free up time and remove cognitive strain so you can focus on the things that matter. Living a couple of days in such a setting can open your eyes for new possibilities in your personal life.
5. Be offline
It is hard to be disconnected these days and why should you? While I was there, the grandfather of dear friends passed away. It is good to be connected, be able to hear that kind of news and react on it. However, there is a lot of stuff coming towards you which is distracting from the really important projects. E-mails, the latest on social networks and Youtube video’s are landing in your feeds, timelines and inboxes with no respect for your current energy level. Being cut off from e-mail for a couple of days is great and frees up a lot of energy to work on the projects you want to be working on.
I'd recommend anyone to take a couple of days off and retreat into one of the many silent homes that are available. Go solo or take a good friend. Bring a couple of great books and writing material. Shut off your e-mail and social networks and see what will happen.