My preparation for retreat has become a ritual in itself. I’ve now taken the train to Chicago three times. It is always a hurried rush to get to the station: bags packed, food made, doors locked. But, once on, the slow rhythmic rocking of the train sets the mood for the upcoming weekend of a much slower pace.
In addition to meditation, we do walking practice, lots of learning, and observe mouna, or silence, for two days. Some retreats are ten days, so this is short really, but a good practice. As one practices avoiding speech, the mind becomes more observant of what we say, both to ourselves and to each other out loud.
If not talking seems like a daunting task, try observing mouna for a short time like half a day, see if it allows for more space in the mind. Watch the thoughts that come up as the desire to voice them arise.
More on mouna later. If you try it, please let me know how your practice is. If you do practice regularly, please share your experiences.