“Silence is a source of great strength.” ~Lao Tzu
For over two years I spent one out of every four weeks in silence. At the time I was living at a Zen Monastery and every month we would have a week-long silent retreat.
During this retreat we sat meditation in silence, ate in silence, worked in silence, and only communicated through hand gestures and written notes.
At first living like this was hard, but over time I learned to grow to appreciate silence. By the time I left I learned that silence was my friend and teacher.
What did silence teach me?
I used to think I needed to watch TV every night. But at monastery I went without and discovered I didn’t need it.
Silence taught me to be happy with less. Pick something that’s weighing you down and let it go. Your life will thank you.
When you can only talk by writing a note, you only say what’s important. Before the monastery I talked a lot but said little.
Silence taught me that a few simple words well spoken have more power than hours of chatter. Think of one simple thing you can say that would help someone feel better and say it.
Being able to speak makes life easy, but when I couldn’t talk I learned how much I relied on others.
Silence taught me to appreciate the value of relating to others. The next time you see your friends or family, try to really listen. Deep listening expresses deep appreciation.
Several times at my first retreat I thought my phone was vibrating. But then I would remember I didn’t have my phone. It showed me how my phone divided my attention.
Silence taught me how important it is to let go of distractions. The next time you are with someone you care about, try turning off your phone and putting it away. It will make paying attention easier.
I once sat a retreat next door to a construction project. What amazed me was how easily my thoughts drowned out the noise. I realized if my thoughts were this loud, I’d better make them as wise as possible.
Silence taught me the importance of shaping my thinking. Take time each day to notice your thoughts and let go of thoughts that don’t serve you.
(Contributed by Mr. Balasunder)