Thoughts Unspoken

Horse Camp under Mt. Shasta.
Horse Camp under Mt. Shasta.

For some it’s a real revelation to be silent. To not speak. To not say what is in, or on, ones mind just seems well….unnatural! And thus it can be very hard for people who come for an introductory retreat since the idea is to cut speaking to essentials. The purpose of this is to help people turn their attention inwards and acknowledge the inner chatter. Just hear the thoughts but not allow them to escape the lips. Some people write a diary to help themselves and I can see how that can work especially if life is geared around talking thoughts as a profession. Or even if this is not so.

One chap I talked to on a retreat who was sitting mournfully in a corner and obviously having a heard time helped me to get another perspective on silence. Silence for him meant punishment! Children during my schooling, and his, were sent to wait outside the classroom door if we were talking during class. Or worse, sent to face a corner of the classroom. Silence as punishment! Imagine? To be sure ‘idle chatter’ was discouraged during my growing up years as a novice monk. But I can’t remember there being much spare time to be chattering anyway.

So it was most interesting to hear somebody say recently, I love silence. It wasn’t the absence of sound she loved though. It was the quality of her unspoken thoughts that she loved about being silent. They are like a bell she said. Clear, defined, resonate. (Those are my words not hers.) Imagine being relieved of the pressure of having thoughts not destined to be spoken? Thoughts that are not a rehearsal for a future conversation or text for an email or blog post. Thoughts that have no purpose, no destination. Thoughts that don’t tell your story or anothers story…

There is more to say however my mind is not cooperating. Time to keep those unspoken thoughts. Unspoken.


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8 thoughts on “Thoughts Unspoken”

  1. Thank you for this. (Bows). May I offer this haiku that formed as I read this posting?

    When the chattering mind ceases
    The silence can be truly heard
    Despite the traffic’s roar.


    1. Like the little haiku Norman. We do have ‘traffic roar’ here at the Abbey however it soon becomes simply a background sound. Thankfully.

  2. Each time I return from an Abbey retreat I need a few days to re-enter this world. I don’t want to hear the phone ring and sometimes don’t answer it knowing that if the call is important, the caller will leave a message on my voice mail. And for a long time after returning home I don’t want to enter into any conversation less than relevant. These silent retreats could be one reason I disconnected from cable TV a couple years ago. I like the silence more all the time, and when I walk through those red gates when entering the Abbey I know I have been set free from mindless chatter.

  3. I go through much of what Nancy described in her comment, after returning from retreat. I need and delight in that silence and almost hate to give it up.
    This weekend I was blessed to stay with two friends in their cabin in Coloma. Although there is talk there is ample time for silence and reading, which this time was a book by Sara Maitland titled ABook of Silence.

    1. Thank you Gay for leaving this comment. I must say I’ve been that more curious of thoughts passing through my brain. However once I’ve keyed into that level of listening…the thoughts tend to slow down. In the end it is ones relationship to thoughts, destined to escape ones lips or not, which makes the difference. Being in circumstances such as on retreat can help to both become aware of ones thoughts and the value one places on them. What I mean here is ones judgments of them – good thoughts, bad thoughts. etc. etc. Uh! I can feel a blog post coming on…..but that will have to be later on in the day.

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