"It is an act of resistance
to abstain from
One thing that I learned about during my recent break is stillness. On a 5-day retreat at the end of the break, I discovered a very deep well of stillness and peace inside myself, something that I really didn't know was there. At the retreat they taught us practices like meditation to access that stillness. I also learned to practice silence, meaning to abstain from speaking for a certain period of time, which could be an hour, a day, or even a few days. I read about someone who pursued a year-long practice of silence. I chose to practice silence for one day.
Before trying this, it was very hard to imagine what it would be like if my mind were less full of distractions. My mind is always full of distractions. Even in yoga class, I am frequently working through a problem, creating a grocery list or fretting over something I might have done wrong.
When I feel lonely, silence is very challenging. In those times I frequently turn on the radio, or chatter at Simon (our cat). I do really enjoy being quiet together with someone I'm close to, like HWWLLB, my sister, or another close friend. It's so wonderful to spend time with someone that is so comfortable, you don't need to fill up the space with sound.
Here's something I wrote in my journal during my day of silence:
"It seems that I can hear a lot more - ambient sounds, as well as what people are saying - and I understand better, maybe because I am listening more simply and not trying to formulate a reaction."
I've found since then that this is a lasting effect. It has become easier for me to listen well to other people, and I think that if I were to practice a day of silence regularly - perhaps once a month - my world would continue to change and deepen this way. I'd really like to try.
What kinds of silence are already present in your life?
sleep, and early-morning time
practicing yoga (sometimes)
working in the garden
knitting something very challenging
The coolest thing that I realized in trying this, is that there is this deep well of stillness inside me, and I can reach it in times of chaos and noise, and just be peaceful. I know that this is something I will continue to use and develop throughout my life, to get me through chaotic, stressful, distracting or hectic times, without letting the chaos hurt me, and without dragging others into it as well. The gratitude that I feel for this lesson is something I can't really express with words.
* Quotes in italics come from The Spiritual Activist by Claudia Horwitz.