How can I almost stop talking
What happens if you are silent for three days?
When do we keep silent? Rare. Maybe in church. Or when we are offended, after an argument. But otherwise we are dictated by noise - sometimes in "quiet" form, on social media as a constant chattering thunderstorm. I was wondering what that distracts us from, what that distracts me from. It's worth finding out, I thought to myself. And I decided, sometime, when the opportunity arises, not to say anything for a while.
I asked myself what the constant babble distracts us from, what it distracts me from. It's worth finding out, I thought to myself.
I already knew silence. As part of my training to become a Shiatsu practitioner, I experienced for the first time in my life what it is like to be very calm. The session - this is what it is called when you give Shiatsu to another person - is characterized by silence. It is not spoken. In the best case, because there are also people who can't stand to relax without a word and can't stop talking. Be it just how the bundt cake tasted at the snack with the mother-in-law on Sunday.
Three days of total silence
But otherwise there is only this rhythm of breathing, of one's own, of the other, the rhythm of touching and letting go. For an hour. And the next. And another one. As wonderful as that sounds - the chat continues anyway, in the form of thousands of thoughts. An inner chatter. The only trick is to let it come and go. A question of practice. I haven't succeeded often.
At some point, I actually had the opportunity to experiment with silence. Three days of silence - but not somewhere in a protected retreat or seminar, surrounded by nature and dignified spaces, but at home, in everyday life, in your own four walls. The whole family had flown out, three days just for me. I had the choice: do I go out, meet people, go to the cinema, cabaret or theater?
Just me, my thoughts and what needs to be done: wait, listen to the silence and then endure what comes.
I opted for a different kind of adventure: turning off my cell phone, computer and television as well. Stock up on groceries, ignore the doorbell and other possible influences as best I can. Maximum where please say and thank you. So nothing that pulls me out of the wordlessness. Just me, my thoughts and what needs to be done: wait, listen to the silence and then endure what comes next.
I got scared, questions arose: will I feel alone? Will I endure the long while, will I find it bored? Do I get nervous, angry, sad, longing, possibly depressed? What will this somewhat different “Lent” mean for me? What will i do Communication is my job. What does it do to me when I fall silent?
Day 1: Is it allowed to yawn loudly?
I wake up, yawn loudly - and thereby scare myself. Is it allowed to yawn loudly? I laugh - just as loudly - and it almost seems to me as if my body is trying to “say” something: Eh, I'm loud! The first challenge - breakfast. Usually people talk there. Usually nothing big or important (we save that for the evening). But it's loud. Now I sit there with my tea (I skip coffee because I think it doesn't go with the silence) and listen to the crunch of the wholemeal toast and my munching. So I sit and eat - nothing else. Awful.
Inwardly, I tell myself my commandments of silence: No, no Ipad. No, not a magazine. Costs to be overcome - the effect: I actually concentrate on the food and chew more slowly than usual. Note to me: Eat in silence = taste and enjoy more intensely. Enjoy the meal.
The morning is longer than usual, time is dripping by - I do a few breathing and yoga exercises and notice the dirt on the floor. "You could clean now," says something in me. "Woman distractor" I will call this voice from now on, it is always there, impossible to get rid of, sits on my shoulders and does not leave me alone. Cleaning would certainly help me distract myself from myself. I let it be anyway - and breathe in against it.
Breathing helps. It shows me the rhythm of nature: Yin, Yang.
Breathing helps. It shows me the rhythm of nature: Yin, Yang: Breathe in, breathe out, absorb, give up, pick up, let go. What I have learned: Anyone who is only “yangig” will burn out in the long run. Silence is yin, it is retreat, it is winter, it is wrapping up, it is relaxation. Rhythm is also relaxation. And then I actually just sit there, breathe in and breathe out, and at the same time stare into the "Narrenkastl". Welcome to the rhythm of nothing.
At some point I feel the need to run - and, yes: to scream. I don't.
And then. Then suddenly I get very, very tired.
During this time, I not only allowed myself to go for a walk, I prescribed it. Thank goodness I live outside, near a forest. Going there seems appropriate to me. What I notice: My mouth is getting dry. Has that to do with the silence? Note to me: wait and see. To drink tea! The walk is nice, another chance to find your own rhythms: This time it's about the pace. Which step fits my breath? What am I after? If I meet another person, I look down. After all, I want to stay with myself and someone may ask me for directions.
The walk is nice, another chance to find your own rhythms.
At some point I feel the need to run - and, yes: to scream. I don't. Ms. Ablenker mutates into an inner critic and accuser: Please, how stupid do you have to be - what are you doing all this nonsense for? Strange memories pop up in me, in my stomach and around my heart - pain. I watch the sky and a cloud pull. The "loss" of my words makes me sad, reminds me of other losses. But also how often I was silent even though I should have spoken. Thought chain cascades. The torrent of speech has shifted inward.
The 'loss' of my words makes me sad, reminds me of other losses.
I cry a few tears. Note to me: Take handkerchiefs with you on your next walk.
To describe every hour of this first day would go beyond this format. It can best be described with an “up and down”, the spaces between which are filled with doubts and strong feelings. There is a lot of abundance, but also a lot of emptiness. Both at the same time. What I already allow myself, however, is reading. But only things that fit the theme of these three days, about “not talking”, about silence, about “nothing”.
There is a lot of abundance, but also a lot of emptiness. Both at the same time.
I pick up one of my favorite books, “Pausing” by Flora Sekura Wöss. On page 169 I read the following anecdote under the title “Silence is the food we need today”: “A Zen student comes to his teacher and asks: What is the way? The teacher replies: Do you hear the rustling of the rain? This is the entrance.„
Towards evening I wish for the sound of rain. I sleep a restless seven hours, I even think I snored.
Day 2: a fearful dumpling in the stomach
When I wake up, I remember my cell phone. I usually grab my smartphone quickly in the morning to see what's happened in the world, who wrote me which emails and when - and which messages. Not using it makes me restless - yes, nervous.
Ms. deflector warns: What if something is there, but you cannot be reached? What if something happened? A worry dumpling is rumbling up in my stomach area. Fear, a familiar feeling to me. That today, for once, I can only share with myself, with no one else. Usually the fear is over-talked and painted over by my words, so I don't have to feel it. Now she is crouching there on and in my bed and imagining everything that could be.
Usually the fear is over-talked and painted over by my words, so I don't have to feel it. Now she's crouching there.
The fear becomes so great that I actually turn on the phone and quickly check my emails and WhatsApp. NOTHING. Now I'm angry with myself. So little trust in the world, in myself, in life. Note to me: learn to trust (easy to say - but how?)
Not to speak costs me strength and effort. Again and again the impulse to call someone, write someone, anything. Instead, I'm already tired in the morning. I notice more and more what is left of myself when nothing happens around me - namely: exhaustion, thoughtfulness, longing. A deep longing for inner clarity, but also to take better care of myself. I make up for so many things in everyday life with superficial gestures - instead of turning to myself, I lose myself on the outside, rush around, dissipate. I go out into nature for a very long, very, very long time. I imagine I can hear the trees whispering. Note to me: Don't get mad!
I notice more and more what is left of myself when nothing happens around me - namely: exhaustion, thoughtfulness, longing.
What strikes me all day today: How often I sigh. All day long I sigh, breathe in deeply and out loud - and wonder what wants to get out of me, what can't get out in everyday life. In the late afternoon I decide to clean a little, at least the dust around the yoga mat. Then I pick up a pen and white paper - wait and see what happens. I paint circles. Large and small, intertwined, concentric circles. Infinity. In the evening, day 2 is marked by deep sadness - I think of my parents who died far too early and what I would have liked to say to them.
Note to me: handkerchiefs, handkerchiefs, handkerchiefs!
Reading for the day, this time from “The Zen Book of Living and Dying” by Philip Kapleau, the Zen master: “In ancient times, it was assumed that the soul would find its abode after death in the tomb or in the coffin of the deceased, it would linger either in the grave or near it. However, in their wisdom, the Masters do not try to put these things into words or explain them. Why don't they do that? An old song says: fools give explanations, wise people never try. "
It's dark, I go to bed very early after doing 50 squats and then taking a hot shower.
Day 3: is there a soul hangover?
I wake up fresher than last. However, I have the feeling that my muscles are sore. There again - the cell phone pulse. I give in to it because it calms me. A couple of emails that I usually answered immediately. Today, however, I say to myself: There is still time for that tomorrow! Two WhatsApp messages from friends: Are you okay anyway? To be on the safe side, I'll write back briefly: Yes, everything is fine. And send a sun emoji to it. Then I turn the smartphone off again.
I make polenta, sweet, with berries in it. The stirring of the porridge calms me down, as does the sweetness of the dish.
Two WhatsApp messages from friends: Are you okay anyway?
Then I think about what I could do. I once read somewhere that people also work in silence seminars - they chop wood, work in the garden, and so on. There's no gardening right now and I wouldn't risk chopping wood wherever. I'm not even allowed to say “ouch” or “shit” when I hurt myself. Instead, I sit down and start painting a picture - with old acrylic paints, some of which have already dried out, but a little something is still possible.
In the end, a picture was created that looks like a big blue wave, in many different shades of blue. Note to me: Googling tomorrow what blue stands for. (For peace, quiet, relaxation, serenity, longing, freedom, distance. And eternity, as I find out the next day.)
Summary: calmer, more joyful, more sensitive
Time for a résumé: have I got used to the silence? A little bit. Yes. I can easily say, because it will soon be over again. But it amazes me how many questions have opened up in me, in these many silent seconds, minutes, hours. Questions that concern the nooks and crannies of my being and my soul that I haven't visited in a long time and are probably as dusty as the wooden floor around my yoga mat. They are well hidden behind the daily doings and chatter. Now I can see and feel it. I take pen and paper - and write everything down. The note to me this time is very long. It ends with a thank you! To myself.
Have I got used to the silence? A little bit. Yes.
The stream of thoughts has slowed down, I have slowed down myself. I let myself go more, I don't fight against what happens inside me and what shows up. At the end of my last day of silence, I am not only proud of having done "it", but also calmer, happier, more sensitive in a special way. Also "more physical", in the sense that I am more in my skin instead of getting lost in my cloud-cuckoo-home of my thoughts.
Let's put it this way, at the end of my days of silence I have more ground under my feet.
Let's put it this way, at the end of my days of silence I have more ground under my feet. But above all, an irrepressible desire to tell half the world what happened the next morning.
Note to readers
Keeping silent alone can be interesting, but it is a challenge. Maybe it’s better together. Today there are even meditation trips, seminars in silence, in monasteries or in the "House of Silence" in Styria.
You can practice silence every day by asking yourself the question: Is what I want to say now really important and necessary? Or am I just talking for the sake of speaking because I am “painting over” or compensating for something that may be unpleasant for me? And already we shut up more often fter.
Every now and then I go out into nature alone.
Move in your breathing rhythm, without music in your ear, do not distract yourself. A forest, a meadow are wonderful places not to say anything, but to hear everything you need to hear: the silence, nature with its noises itself - and your real feelings.
One more thing: Try to eat more often by yourself, without reading, looking at the cell phone or the television. Bite by bite, nothing to talk, just eat. Suddenly everything tastes different.
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