Silent Retreat

Wow. Procrastination. I’ve been walking in circles, putting things in poly pockets, watering the plants…

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I had planned to write this blog all about my silent retreat at Gaia House, but have decided to re-frame it. For me, at the moment, life is finding the balance between meditation and self-care and the crazy busy other stuff which I have fallen in to after the launch of my new business in September. I have been knocked sideways by the response to it – double underlining the need for children to be educated about how to look after their wellbeing, regulate their emotions and build resilience.

But I practice what I preach and know that the challenges I face in developing Chatterminds on my own, with no business experience and terrible IT and social media skills are an important part of my journey. I feel anxious, overwhelmed, guilty (not being available to my children or able to give fully to my psychologies ambassador role) and resistant at times. But, I can navigate these feelings through my own tool box of strategies, which I give to the children. They work for me, so this gives me belief in what I offer to them.

Mindfulness meditation, exercise, positivity, challenge, gratitude, acceptance and kindness are some of the tools that work for me along with a big helping of knowledge that “This too shall pass.”

Back to the original topic of my blog – My three-day silent retreat (the irony of the three days being silent when actually the chatter never stops…in your head). Retreats are a chance to step back from life (we were all there -  teachers, counsellors, social workers…) We are all in the same boat, trying to navigate life as best we can. When you tell people you are going on retreat, many think it’s like a spa weekend, time to unwind and relax, actually its quite hard core (but ironically you do leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and with more knowledge about how to apply mindfulness to your life.)

There is lots of time to think when you are not speaking, and that is exactly the point (and then come back to the breath). It is a time to be entirely with yourself, and notice those old familiar narratives, those well-trodden paths in your mind that play along with you throughout your life. It’s about stepping back and observing. It is a time to notice the judgements (about your fellow yogis who you don’t know), aversions (the back ache, the boredom, the person with the really annoying cough when you are trying to meditate, the rumbling tummy after all the lentils), the craving (more food, more sleep to be better at meditating), the feeling of being like a teenager and wanting to skip the fifth 45 min meditation of the day,  and the constant stream of (often negative) thoughts.

But running alongside all this, there is an overwhelming feeling of peace and contentment, and an excitement about the depth of knowledge through the teachings. There is gratitude for finding this path and learning about how mindfulness can truly enhance your life.

And so to go full circle, it seems that this blog is about my three- day retreat after all because it has deepened my practice of mindfulness, and this has enabled me to get through this last couple of stressful weeks at Chatterminds.


Carol Powell

Teacher and business owner, Chatterminds

Mum of 2, teacher for 16 years (Primary and secondary - special needs), mindfulness teacher, founder of 'Chatterminds' - a provision to help children to manage their emotions. Passionate about children's mental health and wellbeing. Lover of camping, travelling, cooking, chatting to like minded people and browsing around charity shops!


Hi Carol, My name is Sabu. It was nice to read your blog and see that lovely picture of Gaia House; it's like reacquainting with an old and beloved friend. I used to go there on a regular basis. It was always a deep and profound experience for me. Thoroughly recommended.

Go to the profile of Carol Powell
almost 4 years ago

Hi Sabu, many thanks for your comment and how great that you know Gaia House. Indeed it is a wonderful place and as you say always a profound experience when spending time there. 

Go to the profile of Suzy Walker
almost 4 years ago

What a brilliant business idea. Yes creating a business is challenging but how more challenging would it be without the tools you describe. X

Go to the profile of Carol Powell
almost 4 years ago

Thanks Suzy. X

Go to the profile of Sophie Le Brozec
almost 4 years ago

I recently took myself off to a silent retreat, but my idea of silent was reading lots of books ;-) I'm not sure I could manage 3 days of a silent retreat of meditation and mindfulness, but having said that I think it's probably something I should try to do at some stage, well maybe a 1 day one to start off with. Interesting to hear part of you wanted to be a teenager and sneak off - I think I might be that person a bit too much, at first anyway. It certainly looks like a beautiful place though x