What Katy Louise Did...

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Katy Louise writes about health, wealth, happiness and relationships, and the spiritual insights she gains along her path. She is currently editor of Top Sante magazine (www.topsante.co.uk). Prior to that she was editor of Bodyfit magazine (now Your Fitness www.yourfitnesstoday.com) and the launch editor of Soul&Spirit magazine (www.soulandspiritmagazine.com). Katy is also a certified Fitsteps and STOTT Pilates instructor. She is the go-to girl for all matters relating to health, wellbeing and spirituality.

Monday 10 December 2012

Could you spend ten days in silence?

The alternative title to this blog is 'Having my cake and eating too much of it', for here I am sitting at the dining room table of my new abode (and no, not the flat - more of that in another blog), stuffing my face with cake, which has been a theme of the day. Why? Feeling stressed about this that and the other; general feelings of not being productive enough, my inner critic going into overdrive saying I ought to have done so and so by now, added to a general sense of unrest and uncertainty. So, a typical response in such situations, when I feel less then 'sorted' is to eat cake. Some of us have other unhealthy habits we turn to that make us feel better momentarily. Mine happens to be a sugar addiction (ironic too as I've included a feature about going sugar-free in the Feb issue of Bodyfit - which will be on sale Dec 28, if you're interested. The extract is from Beyond Sugar Shock, by Connie Bennett and published by Hay House).

Silence is golden
So in a bid to rid myself of destructive habits - another of which is getting into emotionally charged situations with men over the Xmas/New Years holiday, at least that's been the pattern the past four year - I've signed up to do a ten-day Vipassana retreat starting on December 23rd. It's hardcore. It's in silence virtually the whole time. I was just checking the website and started having a momentary doubt about the whole process when I realised we'll be woken at 4am - 4 flippin' am!!! - to meditate, then have breakfast, then meditate again, then have lunch, then meditate all afternoon, have a cup of tea, then listen to a talk before retiring to bed at 9pm. And the worst thing about it, at least for me, a total bookworm, is that you can't even read anything for the duration. Or take notes! Nightmare! I document everything so it's freaking me out slightly already to think I won't be able to write about my experience as I'm going through it. How will I remember it all? I write down my dreams almost every morning - what if I have some really corkers and want to record them? So, this retreat is not a light, fluffy, angel and crystal-encrusted affair: it's a serious endeavour (we're not even allowed to wear tight clothing in case it's deemed to be too provocative and distracting to those of the opposite sex!). Perhaps I am slightly mad to choose this over what most of the population will be doing at Xmas and New Years. Will I feel depressed half way through that I'm not at a salsa party? Probably. Will I feel sad about not being with my family? Most definitely. But I do see the latter pretty much whenever I want, so that's OK. And there are always salsa parties to attend. And anyway, why not do something different to the usual getting tipsy and spend too much money on a fancy party, all because it's the last day of the year, or, probably worse, staying in and watching TV? No, inner work and total quiet it is!

A bid to release my patterns
Why did I book such a retreat? Partly because I'd had it on good authority from two highly regarded spiritual people that this retreat was THE one to truly experience transformation. I was told that the feeling you have at the end is indescribably but the closest is feeling blissful, at peace, and viewing the world through new eyes. Secondly, I booked it up in September when I realised my most recent 'liaison' - that's probably the best word for it - with a dancer guy I fell for was headed for dead-endsville, which made me sad as I realised I have a hideous pattern of falling for the wrong guy. So, to guarantee the complete and utter, 100% avoidance of anything else man-related occurring this holiday season, taking myself out of the equation and away from all temptations - including the ex who will no doubt want to see me at some point, as he always does - seemed a good idea. Thirdly, these past few months since changing jobs I've felt like my brain is going to explode. I'm suffering information overload, and some sort of attention deficit disorder as I seem incapable, at the moment, of starting a task and completing it; I always go off at a tangent and start doing something else. So the thought of no distractions - no email, texts, any decisions to make etc - for ten whole days is extremely appealing. 
Plus, I've heard good things about this Vipassana stuff and if it can transform hardened criminals in an Alabama prison - check out the documentary Dhamma Brothers - then it surely must have some impact on little me with my comparatively minor 'problems'.

Sugar free for the duration
Oh and lastly, the fact there's a simple vegetarian diet the whole time - which I presume won't involve lashings of dessert - is also appealing as perhaps it'll kick-start a new year healthy eating regime and get me off the damn sweet stuff for good (or at least a month or so to give my poor liver a rest). Having meals prepared for you is great - I could really get used to it! I also hope to have eliminated my inner choccie monster, which makes me want to eat cake every time I feel upset, ineffective, unloved or indecisive. In short, in return for my diligent days in silence with complete lack of external stimuli, I expect to be set free all my limiting behaviours and emerge a transformed woman, free of the need to attach my heart to unsuitable men, or to eat copious amounts of cake. Vipassana, I am expecting a lot from you!

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