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08 June 2012, 12:13

Silence is a fence around wisdom.  ~German Proverb
The silent man is the best to listen to.  ~Japanese Proverb

Silence is medication for sorrow.  ~Arab Proverb
To silence another, first be silent yourself.  ~Latin Proverb
Silence was never written down.  ~Italian Proverb


Silence with an exclamation mark says it all;

·         Be silent

·         Demand silence

·         Angry silence.

No, silence as in SHHHHHH.

There is no equivalent for attaining a deep connection with your soul by honouring a period of complete silence. I attended a four day retreat a while ago with 140 other attendees and for approximately 60 hours we were required to be quiet.

During this time I realised:

  • How unnecessarily we talk during the day - it is no wonder people stop listening to our senseless babble.
  • The remarks I could not make during the day became pointless - nothing changed whether I uttered them or not.
  • When I did not share a thought, I had the opportunity of considering it from different angles. More often than not I realised how nebulous my initial thought processes.
  • Most of the time when I did not agree or like what I saw, I walked away. It saved me and others from my egoistic self.
  • How much extra ‘time’ not talking afforded me during the day and how much extra mental observation the silence afforded me.

On a deeper level I realised:

  • How deep my observations became as time passed. I wasn’t preoccupied with my response but I became present in the situation noticing things that hearing obscured.
  • Peace, not previously experienced in such abundance overcame me.
  • Calmness is part of being and not of doing (talking).
  • My driven nature of ‘want’ calmed down; considering and contemplating just what I needed in comparison to what I wanted.
  • Self-sufficiency is a virtue and burdening others with my thoughts a vice.
  • How profoundly the practise of silence can influence my attitude, emotions, outlook and the connectedness I felt with others.

Being quiet and not communicating is two different things. During the 60 hours we constantly communicated silently by observation. I could interpret the meaning of a smile or frown or hand gesture any which way I chose. Body language became vital to understand a situation.

So many of the participants experienced deep seated emotions they usually hid behind superficial happy attitudes or the many masks we wear on a day to day basis. Empathy was easy because you were present, attending to a person's need for comfort by being there and not uttering all those mindless cliché's. Sympathy vanished and empathy blossomed because nothing unnecessary was said.  Pure, common communion (in silence) had such a gentle effect on all concerned.

We laughed a lot; not because we laughed at each other but because laughter became a natural form of communication. Looking back negative forms of communication was rare or non-existing during the 60 hours of silence; there was no reason for anybody to hit out, became irritated or angry, judge, etc. If a communication was not understood most people pulled up their shoulders and let it go.

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.
Mahatma Gandhi

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