Drop-in Silence: The Real Deal with Hayley Smith
Interested in joining London’s Drop-in Silence weekly event? Here, Hayley Smith shares her experiences.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
My name is Hayley Smith, I’m 27, I’m the founder of Boxed Out PR, a leading London-based PR company, and I’m the founder of the campaign FlowAid, which provides free sanitary products to homeless women. I am originally an Essex girl, but I now live in London. I have travelled to several places around the world.
What kind of retreat did you participate in? Where was it located? How did you spend your time there?
The retreat I participate in is an untraditional retreat. Drop-in Silence is a pop-up event that is running weekly in London’s West End every Friday evening from 5:30pm to 7:00pm until December 18th. Participants spend the hour and a half each week (or as long as they feel comfortable) joined in a shared silence.
What made you decide to participate in the retreat?
Drop-in Silence allows me to have some ‘me time.’ It offers an alternative form of meditation that I can do around work and my personal life. I don’t have time to go away for a full retreat and Drop-in Silence allows me to take time out and learn the benefits of silence over the course of several weeks, and then take what I have learned and implement it into my daily life.
The social aspects after the event on a Friday evening are beneficial as well. Tea and food are usually offered, and you can network with everyone involved and share your experiences. Also, this particular retreat is free, so I can experience and learn without a financial commitment.
What were the highlights of the retreat? What disappointed you about the retreat?
The only disappointing thing is that it is ending soon. This is something that London needs on a permanent basis.
The benefits of sitting in silence are huge. I come away feeling less tired and more alert, and full to the brim of ideas. I also feel less anxious and stressed, and a lot more positive. It sets me up for the weekend and allows me to switch off from the week.
How, if at all, did the retreat change you? Were there new practices you incorporated into your life following the retreat?
I now practice silence in my everyday life, finding time to be completely silent and away from all technology. It can be hard to work around work, but it does help. I use the time to empty my thoughts or read or to make to-do lists, as these activities are available within the event. It helps make my week more productive and ultimately, my results are better. I try to make time for half an hour, but sometimes 10 minutes are enough to return to work feeling refreshed.
What are some of the benefits of participating in a retreat? What are some of the downsides? Would you participate in another retreat?
The benefits of participating in a retreat are the things you take away. I have learned so much from Drop-in Silence and my health–emotional, physical and mental–has improved. I know that not all retreats are health based, but the skills that you learn from any retreat are skills that you can integrate into your daily life, and then use to benefit others.
You will also meet several like-minded people and you can learn from their experiences. I would definitely benefit from another retreat, and would like to go away for the weekend or a week. But with Drop-in Silence, you can work it into your life whilst still gaining many benefits.
The downside is that it can be sometimes overwhelming to face something that you haven’t done before in an intense, purposeful environment. You have to jump straight in and that can be quite daunting, but once I passed that initial feeling, it is all positive.
Are there any tips you’d give someone else who is considering a similar retreat?
Be prepared to completely switch off and commit to it. Switch off all of your devices to benefit from the full experience. You have to switch off to switch on.
Sitting in complete silence can be overwhelming and not a pleasant thought, but just go for it. It is extremely calming and refreshing. Relax, refresh, retreat.
If the idea of being alone with your thoughts isn’t very nice, memory dump before the activity. Write down your thoughts, worries, and concerns on a piece of paper. This act is very therapeutic and will clear your head. Or write or read a book. The idea is to keep your mind active, while away from modern life and demands.