Zen practitioners use the word "demon" to refer to persistent and sometimes afflictive energies that arise in mind.Demons appeared right at the beginning of my solo retreat and most of them stayed active throughout the 100 days. I became quite familiar with these energetic patterns, to the point that I was able to name five of them.
Most likely your demons are similar to mine, with variation only in the details. In case you'd like to compare notes, here are the five "named" energies:
The top chef noted every twinge of hunger as an emergency, and I was often hungry. The top chef couldn't believe that I planned to eat rice and lentils for 100 days so it developed a list of fabulous post-retreat meals which I then ate - over and over.
The Zen critic commented on the many ways that I broke, ignored, or forgot various Zen practice forms. The Zen critic was busy especially around chanting since I continually stumbled over the words to the chants - chants that have been part of my practice for over two decades.
The sex fiend - well, this is a family blog and I'm not going to go there. But I was relieved when this demon crawled back into its crevice in early January and didn't show for the rest of the retreat.
The hypochondriac panicked around every ache and pain. Two months into the retreat the demon convinced me that I needed surgery on my right knee (I don't). It convinced me that I had impacted ear wax (I didn't). And like that.
The life planner developed highly detailed and brilliant plans for the next two years. And then it added more detail and devised new plans. Then it changed the plans and modified the detail. And this went on, daily, for 100 days. The life planner was, by far, the most active of the demons.
These five energies were joined by countless "demonettes" - sparks of energy that flared up for an hour or day, and then disappeared into the background.
Well, the mind is a remarkable thing.
Solo retreats make it possible to encounter the mind's really strange energies. This awareness creates an opportunity (no guarantees) to tame these demons, domesticate them, and transform their powerful energies into compassion and love. That's why we practice, after all. That's why we go on retreat.