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.