“What is silence? It is eternal eloquence.”
To find out what is really going on in our experience, we need the ability to be truly quiet.
Retreats provide an opportunity to learn the inner and outer silence that leads within. Silence is probably the single most important element of the retreat environment.
You can nurture the noble silence in these ways:
At all times keeping strict silence in and around the meditation hall:
~ reducing personal sounds such as coughing, jangling jewelry, beeping alarms, banging cushions around as you set up your seat, and rustling clothing, water bottles, or other belongings.
~ eliminating physical contact with others in the hall respects the group silence.
During mornings and full-retreat days keeping strict silence everywhere:
~ speaking only when necessary with facilitators during interviews and group discussions, or with managers if any practical need arises.
~ experimenting, if one wishes, with reducing eye contact with others, except during facilitator interviews.
This noble silence does not need to isolate us. With time, most people notice that silence allows a deeper appreciation of the simple things in life, as well as an unusual depth of connection with others. Enjoy the freshness of moments of relative inner silence, such as any time you remember to return from a daydream to the present moment. Often those with the most resistance to silence in the beginning turn out to be the ones who love it the most. If you find that you are letting silence turn into a depression or a shell-like avoidance technique, then please shake yourself out of it with a walk in nature, an interview, or a rest.