I was always curious what the effects of a long silent retreat would be? Would I be enlightened? Would I have a nervous breakdown? You have both experiences but they alternate minute by minute. Just when you think you've reached Buddhahood because your mind is clear, the familiar negative thoughts smash in and shoot you down; reminding you what a jerk you are.
Time is moving forward, life is changing, and good things are happening. None of it makes the absence disappear, and sometimes it makes the absence even more noticeable, but it's also essential. My life can't remain in 2015, it can't get stuck in a time when Mum was still alive - it's got to carry on, and that means that I've got to keep on doing what I can to live in the present.
Yes, I'm speaking out in public - although mainly because I'm too chicken to turn to my side and actually tell the three hipsters on my right to shut up, and enquiring whether they think the 'quiet please' signs have a hidden clause stating "unless you're wearing a beanie and trousers which finish mid-shin".
I used to be addicted to busyness. I could not sit still for longer than five minutes without feeling the urgent need to be doing something productive. There was always something drawing my attention for me to work on. I was unaware that I had made busyness the purpose of my life. In all of my busyness I forgot to look after myself.
Do NOT go on a meditation retreat if you've never meditated before. It will hurt your brain. It will hurt your brain so hard you'll think it's trying to give birth to acorns out of your ears and, whilst you could probably make quite a bit of money as a circus act doing that, IT WILL NOT MAKE YOU HAPPY.
Silence, perhaps counter-intuitively, is one of the most powerful tools in a music therapist's armory. Because through the journey from silence into music and back again, comes meaning. And often our job as music therapists is to help clients find a balance between the two; for example with clients on the autistic spectrum.
My father has never left the tiny corner of Mumbai in which he lives. He was born deaf, at a time when being disabled meant you were condemned to a limited formal education. His trip, stressful and unforgettable, helped me see London - and my father - differently. With Father's Day coming up, it helped us look at my dad through clear, unsentimental eyes of grown up adults.