Monday, September 15, 2008

Exercise of the Week: Practicing Silence

When my husband was in college in the early '70s, he spent an entire semester not speaking except during class. Practicing silence, he tells me, not only heightened his senses but upped the volume of his inner voice. It also made him aware of how much people talk and how little they say.

Today we talk more than ever. We walk around with little plastic boxes held to our ears, jabbering into space, oblivious to the people and beauty all around us. Precious moments of time that we might have once spent in thought, or reverie--driving to work, walking down the street, even waiting in line at the grocery store--are sucked up in a vortex of ever-growing obligation to be in constant contact with others. The only person it seems we're not in touch with is ourselves.

So this week, I challenge you to try one of the following:
  • Take a walk in pure silence.
  • Meditate for ten minutes.
  • Drive home from work in silence--no cell phone, no radio, no talking.
  • Practice silence for a day, speaking only when absolutely essential.
  • At a minimum, leave your mobile device at home, or at least turned off and tucked away, one time this week when you're out with friends or family.
Then write down your observations and reflections.

Photo credit: Getty Images


  1. Anonymous9:18 AM

    For those unaccustomed to meditation and "holding silence," your 10-minute challenge will be very difficult. I find it difficult and I've been practicing for years.

    So...those of you going for it...don't beat yourself up if you can't keep your mind quiet for 10 minutes. Consider it a goal to work towards.

    Great exercise, Prill. Thanks for the suggestion.


  2. I, too, meditate. But I have to tell you nothing has made me more aware of how much people talk and how little they say than cell phone conversations overheard when people should be enjoying their food and interacting in modulated voices. Thus, your excercise seems particularly appropriate in these times.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson

  3. I love to sit in silence when driving. It is amazing how silence can give you so much more energy. I don't think we realize how much of our energy is zapped because of all the noise in the world. Being in silence in the woods, in nature, is astounding. I try to take a walk in a woods near our home as often as I can. My spirit soars when I do!

  4. Barbara, I agree that silence can give you energy whereas noise often saps it. BTW, I've been practicing what I preach this week, taking silent walks (my husband is out of town for two weeks) and keeping the radio off as I drive (a big deal for me--I LOVE singing in the car!).

    Allyn--good advice. No need for anyone to beat themselves up for anything, especially meditation.