Rolf Hind: Lost in thought...
Composer of Lost in Thought Rolf Hind reflects on his experiences on silent retreats - part of the programme notes to the piece.
The first time I went on retreat, my life changed. Deep in the silence, there are no names or forms, no future or past.
Returning home – to ‘real life’ – I could feel a slower rhythm in my daily dealings with life, and with people. Less of that bouncy reactivity, more of a heartfelt and authentic response. It was lovely. Then, gradually, this new me slipped away. Impatience, intolerance and discomfort reasserted themselves.
So I went again for longer. It was just as beautiful, and fascinating too. Watching my mind up close as it turned somersaults, inventing stories, creating personas. On the fifth day, there was a storm of anger, at everything and everyone: all these well-meaning strangers I hadn’t spoken to. I broke the silence to speak to a teacher. ‘Isn’t this some kind of smiling death-cult?’ He smiled, with great compassion. ‘You’re free to leave at any time.’ I didn’t.
On my next retreat, six days into the silence, the teacher read a poem. You will know it. It fell, very gently, into my newly excavated depths, leaving traces of its pealing sounds and rhythms. My breath becomes full and warm, I can feel that my heart is full of liquid.
It’s boring sometimes, silence. Although that has an interesting texture – cloudiness in the head, a granular twitching in the body, attention moving between objects like a hyperactive child.
We would meditate on sound. The four 5am blackbirds with their infinite shades of song and sub-song, the faraway wind in the valley. I heard insects land on carpet.
On my sixth retreat, after ten days, and not feeling the least bit crazy, I read out a poem at the final session: I love you all, it finished. And I did.
It seemed the only conclusion and the only way forward.