Silence is Golden - Part 1

By Dave Pratt

Sure, that's a cliche, but the actual experience of silence brings to mind ancient alchemists, who truly aimed at refining the "lead" of our regular consciousness into something finer and more valuable. In the quiet of a silent retreat, we find there is silence within silence.

First, there is the obvious - not a lot of sound here. There is this quiet room filled with people who have set aside this time and travelled here to be together with intention and a wish for something more fulfilling. Maybe we hear the hum of the dishwasher or the breeze outside.

Then, within each person, there is this process of seeing the chatter of the mind, seemingly incessant and without a real direction. However, with each moment of seeing, each individual returns to that intention to simply experience that this body is breathing. There is no need to get rid of what shows up - what draws our attention as we meditate, but we don't have to go with that either. Gradually, we sink into another level of silence and keep going within.

Bit by bit, this connection of attention with breath helps give us the ability to be less caught up in thoughts, feelings and sensation. We begin to have moments of more clearly seeing thought as thought, feeling as feeling, sensation as sensation - all without the unnoticed assumption that I am this body, I am these thoughts, these feelings. We keep going, deeper and deeper into this new kind of silence, until we perhaps come into contact with a silence that could even be with us in the mix of our everyday lives.

As the weekend develops, we continue playing with this relationship between the mind and the body, often encouraging a shift where the body is more in the foreground and the mind’s new job is simply to experience the body doing what it is doing. After all, the body is less habituated than the mind and feelings and isn’t often given the support it needs to blossom. Plus, we can’t just think our way to the deeper layers of silence. We need to use our minds differently than we usually do to really, truly experience the gift of being alive.

We hope you find this series of writings helpful and look forward to posting the next part of the series soon.

Wishing you well,