The retreat, which was not an organised event but a self-directed stay in a silent retreat centre, was not demanding, with just a few hours of sitting meditation every day and many hours of sleeping and reading and walking in the countryside. With lots of rest and only very, very whole, whole foods, no alcohol, no coffee etc, it was really as much of a rest and detox cure as a meditation retreat. I left Devon a little less grey-white in the face and flabby in the belly, and feeling healthier than I had for rather a long time, got on the train for a 4 ½ hour journey – crowded train, very hot day, air-conditioning not working properly – and got off in London with all the symptoms of a lousy cold, which has had me rather ill for the past week.
Perhaps the discomfort and high fever, along with the usual major backlog of work that follows a holiday, account for the tone of my blog posts. Reading the comments, I thought: oh dear, do I sound depressed? I’m not actually depressed. More the opposite, actually. I’ve noticed for some years now this rather disconcerting syndrome: when I’m ill I get more done, and with less anguish! I can see exactly why this is. It’s because with only about 25% of my mind available it just all gets on with the job in hand, perhaps a bit slowly and perhaps not very imaginatively, but gets it done. Out of action is the other 75% which normally busies itself frantically with reflection, self-reflection, reaction, over-reaction, thinking it all through again and again, assessing and reassessing the many alternative approaches and priorities, rejection, anger, boredom, obfuscation… Aiee. Are many people like this, I wonder?