Retreat Anxiety

I recently attended a 3-day meditation retreat. This was a non- residential silent meditation retreat. Having had retreat experience before and also being a meditation teacher I thought that the 3 days would be a walk in the park. From both a stamina point of view and a personal growth point of view. By day 2 the retreat was moving along smoothly I had some very pleasurable sits sprinkled with some moderately boring and irritable periods. But this was not uncommon.

Little did I know that by that evening I would experience large amounts of anxiety. I realized that this type of anxiety was not the standard acute stress or even generalized anxiety symptoms that I get. It was deeper and the flavor of fear was more present. It may have even been existential anxiety. In the evening after the retreat had finished for the day. I had a small miss understanding with my partner and this brought up deep attachment wounds that really flared up as a result of this fear. I felt overwhelmed as if the world was going to crumble around me. Having left the retreat all I could do was walk around the block and calm myself down with self-talk. This retreat anxiety was bowling my already present trigger out of proportion.

After this incident, i decided to leave the retreat early and resolve the issue with my partner. I realized that judging my progress by how long I can sit or by how many retreats I have done is not the answer. As my partner said.’ Just because a retreat went we’ll for you last year doesn’t mean it will be the same this time around. I think this is very important to understand. I think my ego wanted me to finish this retreat because if I call myself a meditation teacher i SHOULD be able to do it. But in reality, If I was going to sit a retreat I really needed to be in a trauma-informed environment so I had the support to process any fear or emotional trauma that may have shown up.

But as the saying goes we live and we learn.