Have you ever considered a silent retreat? Here’s why you should.
My dad used to say that he couldn’t believe how different his two children turned out to be. And he would use the hour-long journey to grandma’s house as a good example of why. If it were just he and my brother in the car, it was silence, while I just never shut up. Part of me always envied my brother’s ability to be completely comfortable in silence.
Chatter can be a waste of time, especially when it’s pushed. Say you’re on a walk with a friend and you feel the need to carry on a conversation for the entire length of the walk. It can deplete you of energy, making you feel more tired at the end of your walk than you ever would have it you walked in silence by yourself. Not to mention that sometimes you can end up saying things that you don’t mean. When you’re out of material, sometimes it can be motivation to gossip–a massive downer and waste of time.
That’s where a silent retreat can be a great experience. It’s a reminder to use your words for good. Is what you’re saying worth while? Is it kind? When you don’t talk for a bit you’re more like to truly consider what you do say.
And silent retreats can be beneficial on a number of other fronts. If you’re in a transitional period of your life it can be a great reset. Maybe you’ve split with your partner, lost a loved one, or you’re looking to make career changes. Or maybe you want to learn how to deal with stress in your life in a more constructive way. Maybe you want more than anything to find your purpose in life, as cliché as that might sound.
In a noisy world silence can be welcoming, especially for those times when you can’t seem to drown out the distraction. Spending five days reflecting on your life can make a world of difference. After all, how can you make headway in your life if can’t learn to listen to yourself?
Happiness comes from self knowledge–learning to know and love yourself so much that you begin to spread that love to all living beings. And self knowledge comes from taking the time to sit with yourself in silence. It’s a beautiful thing.
You can go on a silent meditation retreat, which vary in length and can be found all over the world. Or you can go silent when you’re living at an ashram for as few or as many days as you feel comfortable. Don’t dive in, be realistic. Don’t go on a 10-day silent meditation retreat if you’ve never meditated in your life. But if you need a jumpstart in your life, silence may be just what the doctor ordered.
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Image: Minoru Nitta