Two weeks ago, I sat alone with a glass of wine desperately trying to decompress from another week filled with dance classes, yoga classes, students of all ages demanding my undivided attention, rushing from one space to the next, and found myself googling “silent retreats.” I stumbled upon Siddhayatan Spiritual Retreat. After browsing through their offerings, I noticed that for a small additional fee I could bring Mr. Darcy and within minutes I had impulsively reserved my space for the following week.

Monday morning the pup and I set off for the ashram in East Texas. The day was bright, brisk, and beautiful. Mr. Darcy napped for the majority of the drive while I sang along to all of my favorite 70s jams.

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Upon arrival, I was greeted by one of the nuns who went over my options along with the general rules and guidelines. Since puppy was with me, we were staying off the main property. The space was simple, modest, and bare, but clean and more than enough room for the two of us.

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The area surrounding us was enclosed with a special gate designed to keep the coyotes out, so Mr. Darcy was free to run wild and play fetch. We did a fair amount of wandering outside the gate before I had to head back to the main property for mantra with the Master and other retreaters.

My knowledge of mantra is limited, but I was familiar with several from my 300hr training. For the first few I opted to listen, but by the second page I readily joined in. The energy you feel when reciting mantra with a group is almost tangible. It reverberates and pulses throughout your body – you’re almost humming with energy like a plucked guitar string.

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It was fun to meet people from all over the world who had found their way to this place. Some had been there for over a month, others had arrived within the past few days. One of the men asked why I was there. He said that everyone who came to Siddhayatan was searching for something. He also told me that while someone had successfully done a 38 day water fast, but the longest anyone had gone without talking was 8 days.

The silence wasn’t so bad. While a little lonely being separated from the group on the other side of the property, I was able to chant in the mornings and spend time with others during meals. There is something both peaceful and liberating to be able to absorb all of the activity and conversation happening around you without the expectation or obligation to participate.

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I hadn’t realized how much I’ve been needing to slow down. I spent countless hours wandering through fields with Mr. Darcy, and the rest of my time reading, writing, and sleeping. I was able to identify my fear behind some of the issues I’ve been dealing with, and have felt a pretty big internal shift since naming them out loud. The next time you have an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary, I encourage you to book it before you have time to change your mind. It could change your life!

xx/m

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Smoke on the water after morning mantra on the walk to breakfast.

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Beautiful flowers I was able to capture on the Spring Equinox.

Texas sunsets make my heart flutter. This was my view between mantra and dinner Monday night.

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