This one has been on my list for a while after inspiration from Mayfairing’s blog but I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to do it. A day where I didn’t have to interact with too many people, but also wouldn’t be completely alone – a day like today.
My husband and I were both home so I thought it was the perfect conditions to take my vow of silence. I decided to do it for 12 hours, 9 till 9, and extended it to any active interaction with people like social media, or messaging. It was hard.
I have to admit, I didn’t have a greater reason behind doing it, than that I’d like to try it out. I know someone who has been on a silent meditation retreat and enjoyed it, and I’ve read that there are apparently many benefits to taking a vow of silence, including lower blood pressure, and improved mental health. Whilst I’m not sure about that myself, I was still intrigued to try it.
Whilst I’m not a chatter-box, I can have my moments, but even so, I didn’t expect not talking to be this hard. Almost as soon as I began I started to think of all the things I had to do that needed me to talk or message someone. It was like deciding to cut out sugar, and then only being able to think of chocolate cake. I decided to go out for a run in the forest and walk around for a bit after, but this turned into a bit of a minefield. On my way out the door I bumped into a neighbour who said hello, and being the polite, neighbourly woman I am, I said hello back. First fail. Then, every jogger, walker, and cyclist I passed wanted to also say hello: it was too awkward not to respond so I greeted each one in turn. I wasn’t doing too well here.
Once I was deep in the forest, there wasn’t a soul around, it was just me and my insanely busy internal chatter. Seriously, my brain would not quieten down. Being silent and alone in the forest is something I do often, so it was very surprising to me to find that my brain was going a mile a minute and couldn’t stay in the moment for more than a few minutes.
As the day went on, and I was around my husband who was working from home, it got harder and harder. Sitting and eating our lunch and dinner in silence made me really sad. It was like I was giving him the silent treatment, but he hadn’t done anything wrong! We both found it very strange.
Ultimately, I didn’t feel any benefit to taking a vow of silence. Likely I didn’t do it long enough, but even so, I didn’t gain any deep insights into myself, find myself a better listener, or feel less stressed – in fact, the opposite was true! It was very stressful trying to non-verbally interact with my husband whilst we were sharing the same space. I understand now why people go to a specific place to practice silence.
Although I didn’t enjoy this (at all) I’m still glad I did it. It was an interesting experiment to see how I’d react, and I was surprised that it affected me so much. Plus, now I can save hundreds not going to a silent meditation retreat!