He Said/She Said: 10 Day Silent Treatment

He Said/She Said: 10 Day Silent Treatment

The silent treatment.  Everyone can recall playing it as a child, seeing how long you could be silent, but more importantly, how much it angered our target.  After months in the loudest place on earth, India, we decided to sign up for a 10 day silent mediation/intro to Buddhism retreat in Dharmasala.  Here are our thoughts on giving the world the silent treatment for 10 days.

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HE SAID…

Since the day I formed my first word I haven’t stopped talking. I’ve spoken when I shouldn’t, opined when opportune (and not), pontificated on important points (or so I thought), expounded on key elements, and shot the shit (for shit’s sake, of course). The reality with me is that nobody leaves thinking I’ve left something unsaid, because, if someone has to say it, it will probably be me. After decades of decadent debates I decided that 10 days in silent mediation would be…different.

Did you know you’re crazy? I’m sure you’ve been told a time or two, but really, you and me, we’re crazy. Thankfully, in our daily life, we don’t have to confront what we are really thinking about as we’re distracted by stimulations, to-do lists and other people. The whole time our mind is chattering away trying analyze, identify, and consider the world around us. In the world full of distractions your mind’s chatter, your thoughts, are accepted at face value. After just a few days of silence, listening to your thoughts and considering their roots you’d be normal if you realized you just might be crazy after all.

It was only by holding my tongue and listening to my thoughts did I start to really think about my thoughts. In normal life I would have thought and spoken immediately, not really thinking about what I was saying, acting off the top of my mind, but when you have to hold in those observations, the responses to situations, and connecting with others you really start to identify how you think. The reality is that we too often attach ideas on things, such as that car will make me happy, or that women, wow, now that would make me happy…if you know what I mean! We make these projections and attach attributes to things that don’t really have that attribute itself, that great car that will make you happy? It will take a lot of care and money. That woman, well she’s a lot more work than the car.

By spending 10 days in silence I got a unique opportunity to listen to my thoughts and think about where they come from, how our minds spin fantasy futures that can occupy us for days, while forsaking the here and now or the work required to get to make such a fantasy come true. We’re better off focusing our minds on what we want to accomplish and the steps that we need to get there than Facebook stalking those that would never stalk us back.

SHE SAID…

I had almost made it through the 10 days of silence when, on day nine, our meditation teacher said, “whatever the mind says, just say ‘yeah, yeah’.”  I burst out laughing and couldn’t stop.  For ten days I had kept my vow of silence, not talking to anyone.  I had focused on my breathing, trying to calm the chatter in my mind and concentrated through hours of meditation.  However, the ultimate lesson of keeping quiet was deceptively simple: don’t believe everything you think.

If you believe everything you think, not only will you convince yourself you’re crazy, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We keep ourselves so busy talking and spinning stories in our head about how our next witty comment will be received.  We worry about how people react or fantasize about how hard everyone will laugh.  However, this leaves us little time to determine if what we have to say is relevant, important or even interesting.  In silence I realized that most of the things I think about are a waste of time and I spend much of my time talking rather than communicating.

Spending ten days in silence taught me so much and it’s a unique experience I would recommend to everyone.  The lessons I learned are beneficial, but I found putting them into practice is hard.  Just like learning anything new, it’s fun and exciting to put my new found knowledge to use. Every time my mind passes unnecessary judgement, or I  find myself worrying about something I can’t even control I try to remind myself to just say “yeah, yeah.”

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Comments

» Ayngelina :
Sep 14, 2012

I know a few people that have done this and I have considered it especially as there is so much noise in my head.
Read Ayngelina’s awesome post Food Friday: Best pizza in New York?

LOCAVORista Reply:

Ayngelina, I would highly recommend it! It is a fascinating experience.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Ayngelina, I was amazed by how much noise is in my head-more than I could imagine. Learning to quiet the mind is an amazing skill and spending time in silence truly gives you the opportunity to reflect.

» Carrie :
Sep 18, 2012

That sounds awesome! Good insight.

LOCAVORista Reply:

Carrie, it was an incredible experience. While it is a personal experience, everyone in the retreat that made it the full 10 days derived a lot of benefit from the silence and was happy to have done it.

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thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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