I have decided to challenge myself in a brand new way. Frankly, it’s a challenge that scares the hell out of me, but that’s the biggest reason that I must face it head on. I will embark on my own adventure into solitude and silence.
I have reserved a secluded cabin in the middle of Oregon woods for approximately 43 hours. I will not be taking or using any form of entertainment or distraction. That includes any kind of electronic device, book, notebook, writing utensil and/or paper, game, or anything else that could be used to project my thoughts into the future, past, or imagination.
“But Jason!” you exclaim. “There’s nothing wrong with reading a book or writing a journal!!” Actually, there’s nothing wrong with any of the things I won’t be taking. I’m not doing this to escape the evils of our modern world. This will be an exercise in mindfulness. I will be challenging myself to stay in the present as much as possible, pulling my thoughts back to the moment whenever they drift. Even if I read a nonfiction book, I would be comparing what I read to experiences in my past or thinking about how I might use this information in the future. Sleeping the whole time is also off limits. The most exciting things I will do will be walking in nature and preparing my food.
When I first decided to finally do this, after thinking about it for a couple of years, I had to talk it over with my wife, Sheryl, before doing anything else. It felt odd telling her that I wanted to go on what might seem like a vacation by myself. However, I’m a very lucky man who married up (a lot) and she immediately understood what I was getting at. She has booked most of my travel for seminars and such in the past, so she used her powers to help me find a cabin. It’s funny that I was mildly excited about the whole thing until the booking was official, and then I was nervous and anxious.
I am positive that I am going to learn something about myself on this adventure, I’m just not sure which way it will go. I hope to have an amazing meditation breakthrough like the one Dan Harris described in 10% Happier. Dan was on a much longer retreat, but it’s still possible. There is also the possibility that I will have a really hard time controlling my thoughts and I will come home with a clearer picture of what I need to work on in my mindfulness pursuits. Either way, I believe the outcome will be positive in the long run.
A side benefit will be the fact that I will have tackled something new and difficult. I know many people that would never even consider something like this. I’m reminded of when I quit drinking coffee for a week not long ago and so many people said, “I could never do that!” Each time I challenge myself with something like this I come away more confident that I am in control of myself and my life, that I do not suffer the whims of addictions, and that many of my obstacles are only in my head. In short, the flow-over effect is that so many other things in my life get easier.
In my next post, I will share the outcome of this exciting but scary endeavor. I can only speculate about what that post will contain, but I promise to be completely honest. Stay tuned.
(You can find part 2 here.)