Day of silence/silent retreat
The purpose of scheduling a time of silence in your life is to help you to bring the inner peace that meditation provides into your outer life. The silence can even be comforting and welcoming. Allowing special time for silence in your life can also be energizing and life-changing. For those of you who are looking to simplify their life, a regular practice of silence might be one way to work toward that goal.
For our purposes, we’ll talk about spending one day alone, and at home, that is dedicated to being in silence. But, you could spend as much time as you need. If you have never attempted to work with silence, you could go on a hosted silent retreat to help you to learn more about it.
I have attended workshops that included silent retreats, which are arranged so that there are a certain number of days dedicated to silence. Many different groups offer them. The retreats can be guided so that the group that attends can have a direction. The participants might dedicate the time spent in silence to asking a particular question. Later, everyone could then could share their answers with the group. Also, the groups can provide time for the individuals to share their time in silence. I’ve found it to be very remarkable to realize that many people will have similar experiences.
For some people the silence is a deeply moving religious experience. For others being silent is a way to deepen their sense of spirituality. You might find that silence can help to expand your meditation practice, or simply to solve problems. But, you don’t need to have a reason for silence and you can come to silence with an open mind.
Time spent in silence can very powerful. There are no fixed rules, but when you are silent you should be “unplugged”. This means you should stay away from television, computer, radio, music, books or using the phone. The fewer inputs you have to your brain the better. This is a time of emptying, slowing down, and patience. You may have to make agreements with your family in order to do this successfully. But, they might be able to share in the process.
Keepinga journal is encouraged, but don’t allow your time to be consumed by it. Your journal can be an excellent resource to refer back to after the period of silence. But, don’t go overboard, this is a time of contemplation. You are trying to focus on the silence, and what that brings up for you. You might use your journaling to write about what it feels like to have an absence of noise.
Being creative is also encouraged. You can work with whatever materials that you like, just try not to use them as a distraction. You can use this quiet time to work more deeply with your own inner material. You might want to work with a troubling feeling or emotion, and try to paint it or create it in away that brings out its true nature. You also might want to work with some of the imagery from a recent dream. You might even ask for a dream on the night before your day of silence. You might be surprised with the beauty and power of the objects that you create at this time.
One last thing to do is to arrange and schedule your silent time. You may want to simply be silent for a 24 hour period. Or, you might choose to be silent from sundown on one day, to sundown on the next. It’s all up to you. Also, make sure that others will not be worried about you during this time. Let them know where you will be, and what your plans are. For some of us, who are tightly connected with work, scheduling a silent time might be a little more difficult, but not impossible.
What do you need to do?
Find a day where you can be quiet and alone. It might be better to pick a time when you can be comfortable outside as well. You might not want to have silence in the winter.
Before you begin, you may wish to make a special promise to give yourself a gift of some sort, when you successfully finish the day of silence. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but it might be a nice way to honor your accomplishment.
If you are involving your family, then let them know how important this is to you and encourage everyone to honor the silence. Of course, emergencies can happen and your phone and computer should be handy.
Make sure that you have a journal ready for the day, as you will want to stay at home. Going out is okay, but not encouraged.
During the day there should be no “plugging in.” That means that there should be no television, computer or phone usage. Reading should also be limited.
You may wish to engage in creativity during the day. Feel free to do so, but it should be as a way to work with your own inner material and not as a way to zone out.
During the day:
You may want to begin the day with a meditation.
Spend time in silence with yourself and family, if they are involved.
Record your thoughts during the day.
After your day of silence is up, you may wish to have a special celebration and collect the reward that you promised yourself.