I returned to the Isle of Eigg once more on my own. It is a place I now love to escape to away from the rat race and the noise. I find it very difficult to get days of silence otherwise. More and more I am becoming aware of the importance of having periods of silence even though I think our natural inclination is towards chaos and busy-ness. I think perhaps as a whole in this modern age, we have become too busy and too noisy. We are a generation that eats in front of the television or plays games on our phones while waiting for the bus. Buddha said, “When you are hungry eat and when you are tired sleep.” How often do we just do one thing mindfully without having our minds focused on so many other things?
A friend of mine recently went on a weekend retreat to a Buddhist monastery without knowing that she would be asked to give up her cell phone, books, writing material and the need to speak. She spent the weekend with about fifty people who didn’t speak to one another. She came back declaring it was “Life-changing!” I was intrigued by the idea of no books to read. Well…actually at first I was horrified but then intrigued. Could I do it? No speaking was fairly easy but no reading or internet? I decided to try it for a day while I was on Eigg. Most of the time, I wouldn’t be speaking anyway but giving up reading was another story. I crave reading time so often that I really struggled against the emotion of feeling like I was waisting my time not reading.
So I arrived Saturday afternoon at my log cabin at Tigh An Sithean where I would be staying for a week. Tigh An Sithean is Gaelic for “The house on the fairies hill”.
The cabin was cosy and surprisingly warm. Mick and Jacky who own it had provided me with lots of blankets, duvets, towels and even hot water bottles. I didn’t need all that as there was also a gas heater and an electric heater inside. They were a lovely couple who checked in on me nearly every day to make sure I had all I needed and if I would like anything from the shop.
On that Saturday, since most of the day was gone when I arrived. I settled in and then took a stroll to Laig Bay feeling more peaceful by the minute The waves seem to be moving ever so fast as to make it appear as if they were scampering. This made the sea foam appear more solid.
On my second day, I decided to try the experiment of no brain stimulus and silence.
So was it life-changing for me? Not quite. What I discovered was that I found it difficult not turning on the TV, internet or opening a book. At first, I was bored. When I observed that, I thought how insane it was to equate peace with boredom! However, I do feel the experiment was valuable. I have learned that it is good to give your brain a break from over-stimulation from time to time. We need time to observe our thoughts and we need to give time to God to speak to us. How can we hear him if our brains are engaged in other thoughts or distractions?
If inner peace seems boring, it’s probably because we need time to break the habit of over-stuimulating our brains. What’s happened is that we became use to the chaos and need to slow down a bit. Do one thing at a time, the way our grandparents probably did. The difference is that we also need to have a daily practice of prayer and meditation. What I suggest is to look really hard at what you are doing every moment. Do you need to be on the computer while having your lunch? Is what you are about to do necessary or can you put it down or put it off long enough to spend say 20 minutes in contemplation?