Why Have I Gone On a Silent Retreat Every Year Since 1984?

To put an X through my anxiety.

by Dr. Asha George-Guiser

My human mind is full of quirks and twists that come from my human evolutionary and sinful past. Every year I prepare to break the infinity negative loop of my five struggles by becoming silent for eight days and seek help of a spiritual director who helps me navigate the five struggles. Let me share the five struggles.


First is imagining danger in the future and predicting the worst.

This thinking worsens when we have tragic shootings, increased violence, stock market drops, loss of something or someone I cherish.

 Second struggle is ruminating about the past.

I tend to ruminate about something I or someone said or did that was hurtful. My mind makes me relive the pain again and again, as if rehearsals of the past can avoid future peril.


The third struggle is worrying about what other people think.

In the pre-historic times, reputation helped you survive in the tribe. When this struggle increases with failing to acquire enough “likes” on social media or create a false self to avoid exclusion, I feel false when included. 


My fourth struggle is always needing more, fearing scarcity.

In pre-historic times, acquiring more things meant survival. Now needing more is a form of torment of the insufficiency of everything available.


My fifth struggle is feeling not good enough which leads me to toxic competing and comparison and self-criticism and Photoshopping.

For our pre-historic ancestors what mattered the most is that people could work together to survive, not they outperformed everyone.


When I begin the silent retreat, the first two days becomes a battleground, an inner storm as these hidden five struggles come to the surface. By the third day, through prayer, meditation, direction, Scripture reading and nature walks, silence and solitude become a furnace in which transformation takes place. Thus silence and solitude become the stillness of the storm. It is a peace won at the cost of radical openness and transparency. It is a stillness born of transformation.  It is a tranquility as the fruit of forgiveness from God and others and from myself.

In the next blog in the fall, I will share how I wrestle with each fear. Love to hear if you have these fears. See the Workshops page for registration for the June 13, 2020 workshop on “Putting an X Through Anxiety.”