“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
On Easter Friday, I went with my friend on a hike with her dog. She mentioned that she wanted to try ‘Vipassana’ a retreat into silence for 10 days. I had heard of similar things that some of my other friends had attended.
My first question to her would I be able to read? Of course I knew that, ‘Vipassana‘ does not allow reading, writing, talking, listening to music or any form of communication.
I heard myself saying being silent is fine as long as I can read. Yeah, I think I can do that for may be three days, but ten full days, I doubt it.
She started sharing similar things that she needs music, or TV or books to read.
My sister puts the TV on as soon as she comes home. The TV is on but she is not watching it and probably barely listening to it. It is almost like background noise in her house.
How many of you know people amongst your friends or family who have the music or TV on though they may not be listening or watching the same.
Why do many of us find this need to be doing something at all times?
Is it to simulate our mind?
Is it to avoid the silence engulfing us? Why did I worry about not being able to read or listen to music when my friend and I were discussing about ‘Vipassana’?
Why did my friend have similar concerns?
Most common responses you are probably going to hear is
- the silence is deafening
- I’ve no idea what I’ll do with silence all around me
- I need to avoid the weird thoughts that come to my mind
- I need to quieten my mind
- I’ll feel lonely in complete silence
- I’ll go insane.
I was worried because I am scared of being silent with no form of communication. I’m silent many times during the day but I’m reading or working or listening to music or writing or thinking or hiking or at the gym or yoga. Although I practice Mindfulness for a short period of time in the day, I can’t imagine myself doing meditation for 10 days and just being with myself and my thoughts. The lack of a stimulant in the form of books, articles to read or music almost feels like a vacuum in the absence of not talking.
I’m piqued but not sure if I am ready to take this journey of ‘Vipassana’ yet. It is a challenge and just because it is a challenge I’m tempted to do it.
I derive a lot of strength in silence during the day and when I am ready to undertake the journey of “Vipassana”, I hope I find peace and strength from that experience.
What are your thoughts?
Have you been on a journey of ‘Silence’ ?