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Silence as a Practice

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

I used to sleep with a machine!

As a student that’s the line I used

As I trained as a professional

Court reporter.

I learned a new language

and applied it to the 22 unmarked

keys and practiced until

I could type over 250 wpm.

Practice takes patience and

Trust, a clear direction and

Repetition over and over again

Until acceptance erases the fight.

That’s what I have been doing

For 154 days now –

Practicing my skill of

Silence getting to know me.

I happened upon the practice

Of silence at a retreat because

I had enough of the noise

In my head.

I reached a tipping point.

And said enough!

I surrendered and enrolled

In a week of silence.

I was fed up; I had had it.

I have patience but I was done

Being a victim to my thoughts

it was time to face the fire.

I was excited with the thought

Of a reprieve from the normal routine

And welcomed my aloneness

With books and journals and myself.

At first it was easy as I was

Comfortable in my own company

And then the familiar wilting of my

Insides started and I wanted to go home

Sadness emerged pulling me down

Entrancing me with my stories of loss.

I journaled and cried, walked and prayed.

Eyes lowered and voice still.

I was so tired I slept when I wanted.

I gave myself what I wanted – a new concept.

Only rule was I couldn’t run.

I decided to be there for me no matter what.

I endured sadness and anger and fear

I witnessed my mind clamoring for distraction

I started bargaining and pleading for relief

And I stayed steady because I knew there was more.

An incredible sweet relief

Just being in silence with myself

With no demands, no expectations,

I made friends with me.

Silence has become a buoy

That is anchored in a changing sea.

Sometimes I get tossed around

Scared, angry and sad

And still I am anchored

And willing to be there for me

With breath, with kindness

trusting my anchor holds.

Practicing silence is not boring.

I’m surprised at times with what I feel

Surprised even more by the images

And spaciousness I relax in.

At times the silence drags

As my busy mind fights against it.

Still I will not abandon me

I am worth fighting for.

I’m learning who I am.

Listening to what I need

And giving myself gentle attention

As I practice silence.

My life unfolds day by day.

I trust my problem-solving skills

I learn from every experience

I believe in my worth and dignity.

I acknowledge my pain and look beyond.

I forgive others for abandoning their hearts

I trust the wisdom of my soul

I let go into my silence.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Today is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in America and it’s important to mark it. It’s important to mark change and progress, as what happens as a result of this group as we focus on the future.

  • I was thinking about a silent retreat and asking God for that. And I came across this meditation practice. During the meditation, I couldn’t settle down. My monkey mind kept moving. At the end of it, I realized it’s about a message I didn't want to hear about something bothering me. I have the opportunity to do something about it and have not. I can’t imagine fighting with my monkey mind for a whole week at a silent retreat. I’m surprised what comes up.

  • My insides pay attention to the gift I give myself during the silence no matter what my mind is doing.

  • During the meditation, I got the idea of making the type of sign we wear at the silent retreat “Practicing Silence.” It would help me honor my practice of silence at home.

  • Silence is a good addiction.

  • What I heard in the reading was that practice takes patience and trust. I think it also takes the will to do it, the belief that the work is going to be worth it. So many times I have fallen off a meditation practice in the past. I didn’t have enough trust to last through it and see the benefits. Now, here during the pandemic, I have the opportunity to have the will by showing up every morning, and as a result, I am finding trust and patience. This meditation time and group is truly a gift. Thank you.

  • I have years and years of education, which took lots of study and practice. And I learned through it. We’ve been doing this 15-minutes of silence daily for 150 days, or 38 hours of silence. That’s been practice too, learning something. Learning the curriculum, the steps, insights. Like college.

  • I remember someone here talking about experiencing this time of silence like walking in a “wind tunnel” (see August 16th blog). I learned from that. I’ve learned from all the shares and readings. It's a treasure I didn’t know was there.

  • I worry about my son. Yesterday, I still felt anxious but I was more at peace. It's from the collective here, the camaraderie of this group. It helped me yesterday.

  • What I heard in the reading was that “silence has become a buoy.” I think of it as safe. For years, I was afraid of silence and I avoided it from fear. I am grateful, and I am drawn to silence now.

  • My experience during the meditation was deeper than I expected, and I appreciate the thoughts shared.

  • The readings are very helpful as a way to jump into silence. The reading is an initial starting place, and it’s helpful.

Photo credit: Aaron Burden

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