Q: I have been on many extended 8 - 10 retreats. On them I always have trouble going to sleep. The monkey mind is relentless! On my recent 10 day retreat at Snowmass, it got worse as the retreat progressed. And, I hiked 2+ hours every afternoon. At home I have no trouble sleeping. I generally need 9-10 hours of sleep. Any suggestions or perspective?
A: First of all, I suggest you follow whatever advice you received from the retreat leaders when you shared this situation with them during the retreat . They were in a better position to connect with you as you shared face-to-face.
There many reasons for such an experience. I believe that you were being called to bring to prayer the major themes being presented by your monkey mind. The more you try to control it the harder it gets. Take time to journal, taking note of the themes. Practice Lectio Divina; allow the Spirit to show you the way.
Why does this happen on a 10 day or extended retreat? Because you have been consenting to not only God’s presence but also God’s action. The action is one of purification - whatever is coming up is going out. Many of us sleep walk through life and this is a wake-up call to look at some important things in our life - things that need to be forgiven, healed or celebrated more.
On the lighter side, it could have been the bed, the roommate or the altitude. Who knows the ways of the Lord?
I hope you are back to your routine of 9 - 10 hours of sleep with an awakened heart.
Resting in the Lord, Fr Carl