I’ve recently completed 31 days of verbal silence.
Here are a few posts i’ve shared on FB.
My sharing after 10 days of silence:
I’ve been in silence since March 8th.
That’s ten days.
No spoken words.
Just sounds and gestures and a bit of communicating via writing.
There was no conscious decision, a vow of silence, a dedication of the act (consecration) or a spiritual commitment (tapas).
I simply stopped talking.
I was hiking with friends to “the sanctuary “ beach and resort in Koh Phangan Thailand, where i spend a few months a year.
I got tired of my own talking.
So I stopped.
We arrived at the beach.
We looked for 2-3 rooms.
I’m usually the one handling the searching and inquiring and haggling.
This time I witnessed.
We went to three resorts.
We found beds only at the dorms at the sanctuary resort.
I hardly ever stay at dorms and I didn’t like it when I did.
My friends asked me if I’m ok with a bed at the dorms.
I didn’t gesture “yes” or “no”.
I just smiled.
They decided to stay.
It was so much fun.
A few days later, the couple from that group of friends invited me for dinner.
They picked the place and ordered dishes for all of us, which is what I usually do.
The place, the food and the chef were amazing.
We communicated with eyes and smiles.
I witnessed them talking.
It was one of the most special evenings of my life.
Someone whom i shared a hug and eye gazing with said “thank you for witnessing”.
I like that.
All my life I’ve talked a lot. More than most people i’ve met.
I have always told my stories, or asked questions that influence what the other person is saying.
Now i listen.
I let people talk.
I let them pause.
I let them find the word.
It’s not even “i let them”.
It’s more like “i witness them as they…”
I sometimes don’t even answer or gesture yes or no because I don’t want to decide or to communicate.
I am witnessing.
I am witnessing what is happening without my input, my suggestions, my opinions.
I’m noticing how easily my mind reacts and wants to say something, to be right, to be helpful, to be part of the conversation, to disagree, to be loved, to be worthy, to be smart, to act out any of the many parts of me, to just DO something.
It’s frustrating not to be able to talk or respond.
It’s exciting. Wow what would happen if i just let things happen?
Life is totally captivating without me doing anything.
When I try to do things, they often don’t work out or the effort wasn’t worth it.
In the past I’ve attended many silent meditation retreats and took a day of silence quite often. One time I stayed in silence for two or three days after the retreat.
This time it’s deeper, different, wider.
Not just because it’s ten days and counting.
But because I’m silent in public, with people, not just on my own or in a meditation retreat.
It’s amazing to see how people manage without my input and how the world keeps turning without me turning the handle.
I’ve also minimized deciding, leading, choosing or taking action.
Instead, i’ve just sat back and watched what happens when i don’t get involved.
One evening someone asked for my name.
I just kept breathing.
He said “your name is hhhhhhhhh” like the sound of a soft breath.
I love that.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
My Breath and staying in the natural breathing is one of my core non-practices for myself and others.
It’s not a technique.
It’s dropping the techniques, the stress, the holding, the controlling, the constrictions and contractions.
It’s allowing the natural flowing breath.
So my name, right now, is the sound of a soft breath.
As few or as many h as you’d like.
Some people connect with me deeply through eyes, hugs, laughter and of course , breath.
Others get really triggered and put off, including one of my best friends who said “i’ll see you when you start talking again”.
I’m loving and accepting all of them.
My perceptions of myself are changing.
I’m witnessing them.
And they morph or dissolve.
Every day I’m excited to keep doing this.
Every time when I’m tempted to say something, I relax and let it pass.
I’m thrilled about how I’m going to experience various situations like traveling and land lords and flight crews and taxi drivers.
So many words to describe silence, I know.
This is one of the most meaningful things ever happening to me.
I don’t know if I’m going to continue for a short or a long term.
But I do know which of these possibilities excites me more.
FB post after 24 days:
I’ve been in verbal silence now for 24 days and counting.
No talking, only sounds, gestures and some writing.
It’s been and still is one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.
20 years ago a friend reflected to me that i keep talking, narrating, and mentioning everything that goes through my mind. He said it was exhausting.
20 years later, i still found myself doing that.
Now in silence, there is still mental chatter but at least no verbal diarrhea.
The silence journey is teaching me a lot.
Patience: I need to wait. it’s ok to wait.
Witnessing and non-doing:
I’m a do-er. I’ve been a do-er all my life. Now i’m witnessing what happens around me, in relation to me and inside me. i keep witnessing the urge to do something, and most often, i just allow it to dissolve. Then i’m aware of the peace I feel from non-doing, and the joy of witnessing what unfolds, naturally.
Intuition and flow:
Silencing the outer voice allows the inner voice to be heard a bit better. I am more attuned to what feels right, instead of what i think is better, and they are often at odds. I had many plans coming to thailand at the end of December. I’ve done none of them. Instead I’ve had one of the best vacations of my life, and it’s still going. Often I leave home and don’t know where i’m going. Things keep changing. And it’s all wonderful.
I am learning about people – about specific people and people in general. I’m witnessing facial expressions, body language, body posture, breath, and other non-verbal communication channels, as well as their choice of words, voice inflictions, and where they pause or stutter.
I’m quite good with languages and using words to convey meaning.
I’ve used the titles poet, writer, public speaker and workshop facilitator.
Now without words i’m learning to communicate via the eyes and the body.
Some people understand me better than others.
Sometimes i try to communicate via gestures. Often they don’t understand me or mis-understand me.
Sometimes i feel called to write down something and show them. Often i realized that it wasn’t really necessary.
I’ve become aware that 99% of my talking isn’t necessary.
I’m used to talk a lot during sex – expressing my love and appreciation, processing stuff, giving directions. Most of my lovers enjoyed this aspect.
Now i am expressing all that via my eyes, my hands, my body and my sounds.
With one of the most meaningful women in my life, we tried to make love in silence but she needed to talk, share, process, ask.
I’ve met a potential lover for the 2nd time and she got triggered because i didn’t tell her i was in silence (which i can understand) and she wanted to process stuff that came up in our previous night. I gestured i can listen but she wanted me to talk. I saw the triggers forming and playing out, I felt my love and appreciation for her, and I kept my silence. She said we’re not on the same page and left.
And then I met this woman.
From the first meeting we were mostly in silence and yet i feel i know her in ways i haven’t known other lovers.
She shared a few words but then preferred to share silence with me until i start talking again.
So all our communication is non-verbal.
We make love (a lot), hike, swim, eat out, ride the bike, hang out, do errands, and all in silence.
I already keep a lot of eye contact when making love but with her it’s more than ever.
Eye contact becomes a way to connect, to ask, to answer, to express, and mostly to share love.
It’s really special to be with her when we are both in silence.
Playfulness and humor:
My humor was mostly verbal.
Now it is embodied via eyes, facial expressions and gestures.
I enjoy being silly. I play with kids. I play with adults.
Openness, acceptance and surrender:
I used to have a “right/wrong” or “better/worse” way of seeing things.
Now that i am less able to express my opinions, i find that i am more open and accepting of people’s ideas, feelings and experiences, even if they are different than my own.
It’s semi blissful to listen to someone express something that my mind doesn’t agree with, then just let it be.
Everything is ok without me trying to control, change or fix something.
I always used to have an opinion to express (often to the contrary), a question to ask or a story to share. Often I wouldn’t wait for the other person to finish the sentence (let alone the story) and i’d interject with what I deemed so important.
Now i listen.
It’s fascinating to hear what people share when i don’t direct them with questions or sharing of my own opinions and experiences.
The other day i heard someone mention he owns a boat. As much as i try not to dictate what a person talks about, i approached him and asked him in writing to tell me more about his boat and his life. What an exciting and inspiring story he shared !
I’m so used to appear right, experienced, knowledgable, or smart. i’ve been there, done that and i have the t-shirt. Since starting this silence, it has often been frustrating and challenging not to express all that. And this is another gift of this practice. I am not my mind, my intellect, my personality, my abilities or my life experience.
I hang out with people and they don’t know who i am and all the amazing things i am and i do (chuckle).
I get the sense that some people think i’m weird or socially awkward or slightly retarded.
When i’m not thinking about what to say next, what I want to do or wish to happen, i am much more present with what is, with myself and with others.
I’m experiencing love more often and in different ways. Not talking and sharing moments of silence with others allows love to be recognized and expressed.
Ultimately this experience is revealing myself, my ego, my personality, my programing, my assumptions and expectations.
Not being able to narrate, comment, reflect, guide or contribute is bringing the light of consciousness back onto me.
Perception is projection.
Everything I perceive, whether “good” or “bad”, is a reflection of myself.
I feel i’ve been changing and shifting so much in the past 3 weeks.
What’s next ?
I’m playing with the idea to complete one month.
That’s another 6 days.
I miss talking.
I wish i could get back to talking but talk just a little bit.
But honestly i’m afraid i’ll just get back to the same talking patterns.
So for now i continue this silence experiment, for another day, or another week or maybe another month.
What comes up when you read this ?
What is your own relationship with talking and silence – yours and those around you ?
Share in the comments on the original fb post here and tag me so i see it.
Finishing the silence
On the 31st or 32nd day of silence i felt it’s time to finish, for now.
I was having more interactions when i wanted to express something that did feel serving and empowering for the other or to ask and share what was important for me. I was writing on paper and phone and laptop but it was cumbersome.
I met a friend for dinner. A friend i was hoping to have a silent dinner with as he is a meditation teacher and attended many meditation retreats with me back in thailand years ago.
I sent a voice message to my lover starting with silence and breathing and then i told her i love her in 3 languages – German, English and Hebrew.
Then I told my friend he is the first person i’m talking to after one month of silence. It felt right and meaningful to stop my silence with him.
In the first few moments it felt awkward to speak. I was choosing my words carefully. I was witnessing the process of selection of words and how the words were coming out through my voice and how he was hearing and responding to my words.
I’ve realized and expressed a few times that what i’ve just said wasn’t really necessary.
Within a few minutes I was back to my usual way of talking.
In the following days and weeks i’ve came out of many conversations bored, frustrated and depleted. I realized i talked too much, repeated too many of my stories and listened to too many words describing things i’m not really interested in. Social interactions are the worst.
I also had a few interactions where i witnessed the blessing of talking, where we both shared our hearts and higher minds and laughter and moments of silence.
It’s been 2 weeks now.
Yesterday I woke up and knew I’m taking a day of silence. I answered my waiter by mistake but otherwise i was silent the whole day. It was such a medicine, a blessing, an act of self-loving and an energy-saving decision and experience even though it was only one day. I felt more relaxed and more present. More able to be in the world and out of the world in the same time. I had inspiration to write a beautiful poem and share a few inspiring ideas on my FB wall. I had lunch and dinner with friends and shared silence or listened to them or wrote a bit. I had hours of dance with women and managed to share some direction and checking into boundaries, all without words.
In Thailand i used to take a day of silence often on Sundays and i’m considering doing that again.
Going forward, reminded by yesterday, I aim to talk less, be aware of my automatic patterns of talking and reacting, to take more pauses of silence, to enjoy some small talk but make it short, and find people i can be silent with and places i can be silent in.
I’m also reminded of my calling to bring more silence, stillness and mindfulness into my sessions and workshops and possibly hold workshops which are partly or fully silent, while inviting sounds.
I am grateful for the yoga and meditation teachers who have inspired me to take silence, and for the people who supported me (or didn’t) in this current silence journey.