Solitude in Silence

I once attended a 10-day meditation retreat in Surat Thani, Thailand. My first time there, I was 16 years old and clueless, embarking on a journey to discover myself spiritually. I was young and reckless, my parents were horrified at first at the thought that I wanted to travel to Thailand by myself. But they finally allowed me to when they knew for certain that I wouldn’t be at some full-moon rave party on the Phi-Phi Islands, getting high on Magic Mushrooms and having full-blown sex with handsome, random strangers (and contracting STDs or getting pregnant while I was at it).

So I spent 10 whole days in a forest monastery, doing nothing but silent meditation, having silent meals, quiet baths and swims in the natural hot springs, silent yoga (no groaning even when I was struggling with the bird pose), but mostly importantly, and I can tell you this for a fact: I was silently communicating.

With my eyes. My gestures. My smiles. We lived in a small community of 50-odd strong people of all shapes, sizes and origins those 10 days: by the 7th day, there were only 20 of us left. But still I communicated.

In those 10 days when I and those around me were silent, I could hear my thoughts so very clearly. And despite the silence, friendships were forged. Simply through smiles and gestures. I found that miraculous and amazing.

So why do we waste our breath talking nonsense? Why do we fight and scream and yell at each other? Sometimes, we need to take a step back and look at ourselves, and to imagine our world in silence. Just for a minute. Time standing still. So that we can contemplate and look at the world around us in its purest, raw-edged form.

I had never felt more at peace than when I could not use my voice.