13/09/2016 13:40 BST | Updated 14/09/2017 06:12 BST

On Silence (Part 2)

MJ Kim via Getty Images

After a few days on my silent retreat this summer, I felt like my mind was a bucking bronco that would sometimes buck me off and hijack my thoughts leaving me angry at myself for having so little control. Rather than get mad the idea is to relate to your thoughts like you would to a child having a hissy fit. If you get angry at him/her, the fit gets worse, if you're soothing the child or, in this case, the mind, it calms down. .

In doing this over and over again my mind did start to surrender and quiet down. In those moments I could experience the present; not a frequent destination for me. I could sit there under a tree able to focus on something I never noticed before; the activity of ants (who has time in real life?). They never stop, travelling hundreds of ant miles and no complaints. Another daily activity was scrutinizing the behaviour of lizards; so neurotic, their heads jerking from side to side; paranoid. Birds hunting for worms in the leaves - I was transfixed. I realised that all this must have been going on my whole life and I never noticed.

In this state of presence, I could really taste food as if for the first time. I wanted to marry the granola; each bite a religious experience. I'd sit there, eyes shut, head bowed in reverie, savouring each mouthful, praying it would never end. I thought I'd weep when the final raisin went down.

When people are silent for long stretches, they're at their best. They become considerate of others because their awareness is sharpened. They start opening doors for you and you to them, everyone patiently stands in queues because no one is rushing, men quickly leave the bathroom mid teeth brushing when you need the loo. (I thought that was important). If there was quiet time in the real world I think we'd all be better off. When your mind is calm, it's easier to deal with problems. The red mist lowers and there is clarity. Part of me used to count how many days I had left for the retreat to end, part of me never wanted it to end. No question it changes your brain.

I realized how chaotic my mind usually is from so much fear. Seeing all the other people here go through the same thing you are you realize we're all in the same boat; all trying to hide our vulnerability. Everyone wants to feel this kind of peace and I was lucky enough to experience a small taste of it.

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