Nanpantan Hall Retreat 2021 by Sam Hall 
Back in August of this year I attended a 5 day silent retreat run by the wonderful couple behind Mindfulness Unleashed - Suryacitta (aka The Happy Buddha) and Gaynor - wife, chief organiser and creator of delicious meals. It was an opportunity to go even deeper into the silence for an extended period within a community setting.  
We connected at a level which required no language as we shared a love and curiosity of the present moment. Open to all which would arise and fall in that held-space, discoveries were made, lessons were learned, tears were shed - whether for what needed to be released or simply for the intensity of gratitude in a given moment didn't matter - the beauty of being comfortable with the unknown - it just is what it is! The peace and stillness I was left with at the end of the week has settled within me - anchoring the resilience which grows with the ever-increasing periods of observing with an open heart and noticing with neutrality. If we could all slow down, be quiet awhile and connect in this way there really would be world peace! 'They say I'm a dreamer .....' well now I've experienced I'm not the only one! 
Below is a poem I wrote about the silence - The Stillness of Silence - which I was invited to share with the group one evening during meditation and one which I wrote whilst experiencing the silence - Nanpantan Hall. 
The Stillness of Silence 
A dog’s bark echoes down the valley 
A screeching bird of prey, leaves its perch, takes flight 
Butterflies dance in twos and threes 
On a breeze both warm and light 
Wasps land on my toes, not one but two 
With a twitch of the foot they buzz off 
The screeching buzzard makes its presence known 
Whilst pollinating bees, busy busy, can’t get enough 
Sitting, being, with life as it is 
A cooler breeze blows in unjudged 
The clouds, like my thoughts are distant, yet there 
Simply observed in their passing, not begrudged 
The bell is soon to toll, formal sitting time beckons 
Wise words will be absorbed and heard 
The silence - before and aft - speaks volumes, loud and clear 
Shared energy – as free as a bird! by Sam Hall 
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