An article about Artisa silent retreat and other programs was published in the Globetrotters Club, written by Chloe Marshall, freelance journalist and writer in London. She joined our silent retreat and also participated in our dissertation writing week. In this article she writes about her experiences.
PhD writing week
……… I first visited Artisa on an academic writing week, as after spending several years working as a freelance journalist, my comfort level was very squarely set in writing short articles. While I’d managed the usual assignments for my Masters reasonably successfully, the thought of compiling a 10,000 – 20,000 word project was well, daunting to say the least. Trying to arrange meetings with my supervisor was nigh on impossible, and with such limited help from the university I knew that I’d made the right decision when I flew off to Greece with nothing but a laptop, a few holiday essentials and a big notebook that would soon be filled with useful feedback and tips.
A few months (and a lot of hard work) later, I graduated with a Distinction, and a big thumbs up to Louise and Celeste for all of their support and encouragement throughout that tough dissertation time.
As I get out of the taxi with last year’s studies well and truly behind me, some fond memories of the blue sea contrasted with the green forest, gardens and orchards come flooding back, as I step foot once again on that gorgeous beach. But this time, I’m not here to work on anything, or to even speak to anyone for that matter, and any interaction will be kept to a minimum. I’m here to spend a week in silence on a silent retreat, and to be taken on a journey of self discovery, emotional exploration and mindfulness. Before we go quiet, together we discuss our reasons for seeking silence, and there are some touching, intriguing and truly moving stories. From dealing with the loss of a loved one, to facing some pivotal life choices, or for some, simply seeking a sense of inner calm, our group already seems to have a few unifying themes that link us all together, despite our differences in age, background and nationality.
Throughout the week, we are taken on a wonderful journey despite staying in the same place, and through being quiet I find myself developing a deeper sense of self awareness. Free from the usual distractions of the daily grind and the pressure to communicate, I become more observant of my surroundings and I begin to appreciate them on a whole new level, recognising how much I have to be grateful for.
Without being prompted, I stop to question myself in ways that I wouldn’t normally dare to, including the biggies such as asking what I really want out of life, and whether my current set up is really making me happy. I begin to identify some changes that I’d like to make, and I realise that familiarity isn’t an excuse for complacency. Not all of my fresh questions are easy to approach, but I definitely find some clarity and honesty in myself that will help to eventually find the answers.
Through exploring different meditative and physical activities, we are taken on an emotional roller-coaster of highs and lows that bring back the memories that triggered these feelings in the first place, then we face up to them and see how it might be possible to let them go.
While I’m pretty sure that I haven’t found total enlightment yet and that I’d probably need to spend the rest of my days living in a cave to even get close, I definitely feel an inner peace that is only reachable through the absence of communication. And by the end of the week, I’m so elated that I don’t want to speak – even when I am finally invited to do so. For the first time ever, the words don’t naturally come to me and even now, I’m struggling to find the vocabulary to describe something so profound……..
You can download the whole article by clicking here.
You can read the article in the e-letter of the Globetrottersclub by clicking here.
Our next Silent retreat with Celeste Neelen will be held from September 28 to October 4 2014
Our next PhD writing week with Louise Thoonen will be held from October 12 to October 19 2014.