Monday, August 8, 2011

The sound of silence

For the past six years or so, I have chosen to take a break from my usual frenetic pace and spend a few days with my meditative friends at a retreat. Most of this hiatus is held in silence and I have grown my appreciation for that state immensely since I first, with much hesitation and trepidation, signed on to shut up.

I remember my first experience as an advanced game of charades, where if I needed something, I would make hand signals to someone else there in the hopes that my needs would be met.  I shudder at my physical loudness by doing that at the time.  I actually mimed “I need to bum a smoke” across the room by pointing sequentially at my eye, my knee, my rear end and then made the universal sign of inhaling a cigarette.  I’m sure you get the picture. (I am ever so grateful to my incredibly patient teacher who did not throw me out back then … thank you …)

During my next few years, I gained a lot of ground and competency in the art of silence where I came to the realization that I wasn’t actually stopping myself from talking, but rather entering a refuge where silence was my comfort “blanky” and I was nestling in for a restorative period where I could recharge my batteries.  Each year I grew more eager to spend time there and more daring as to where I would allow my incessant thoughts to take me.  But what the hell would I do if those thoughts became too unbearable or took me to places that I didn’t believe I had the stamina, strength, or boldness to navigate?  (So far, I have always been able to stay with the program and have been astounded at what one can learn by just listening compassionately to one’s self.)

This year, during one of our initial conversations before we chose silence, the difference of noise and sound was discussed.  It was a lovely distinction that I am still able to work with even though I have returned to the normal hustle and bustle of my daily regimen.  My incessant thoughts are noise.  Someone using a chainsaw off in the distance is sound.  What I learned this time around is that I can have silence any time … it’s my relationship with sound and noise that can allow it.  Although I will continue to make my yearly pilgrimage for some years to come, I don’t have to wait for those few days each year to enjoy that coveted quiet.

I can recall on many occasions throughout my life where I tried to create silence through sensory deprivation (floating in the water with my ears under the surface – especially in the Caribbean!) and savouring those moments as though they were fleeting and rare.  I now am able to have that whenever I wish, and I don’t have to jump in the ocean or use ear plugs to get there.

Must run … I have several new songs I have to learn before Saturday … 


Love Buns

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful. Retreats are such valuable places for inspiration and wisdom. Your comments have triggered the work of Julian Treasure, a masterful speaker on TED. Check out some of his talks. They should strike a chord!