Reading through this article in the latest Yoga Journal edition resonates with some of my escapes when I need it a little or even, a big time out. I relate this with my practice of walking meditation as a reflection of quietness without physically being quiet. I have been practicing walking meditation for a while. First I experienced it as part of a week-end retreat in Nan Tien Temple in the south coast of Sydney, about one and a half hour drive.
At that time, I was fortunate to be led by a group of monks for a late afternoon court-yard walking meditation in the middle of winter, before we ended up inside the temple. It was about focusing on my pace, my space with one another, foremost with my breathing.
Another event, was with the flock from JakartaDoYoga, when we were about to do yoga in the park, the Taman Surapati park, that was. It was quiet early, and every one who came to the studio was asked to be quiet and minimize our chitchat. We departed from Jalan Sunda and walking in a quiet pace through the leafy Menteng area, for about 30 minutes. It was a good warming up, too, before practicing yoga. When I keep quiet, I see more and actually, enjoy more of what’s happening in the surrounding area we passed by – continue observing with minimal judgement
Alternatively, when walking is not possible, I would go for swimming, lap swimming that is. This one is even more structured in the movement, in the pace and space, especially in focusing the mind – all the right elements. And most definitely, one can’t talk! Here is the excerpt…
What would you be willing to give up if you knew it would immeasurably enrich your life? I gave up speech. I was called to silence 16 years ago when, while walking the shores of a Cape Cod beach and nearly on a whim, I decided to set aside the following day and go without talking. This step back from the noise and busyness of my day proved so instructive and restful, I wanted to repeat the experience. Since then, on the first and third Mondays of every month, without exception, I have practiced silence for 24-hour periods.
That first day, when I’d told two friends about my decision to go a day without speech, both reacted with the same words: ‘How radical.’ Struck by the coincidence of their responses – after all, this was a day of non-speech, not a divorce or career change – I looked up ‘radical’ in the dictionary and learned that it comes from the Latin word radicalis, and means to go to the root of something. I dismissed the notion, seriously doubting whether one day of silence could get to the root of anything. But this simple act has altered my life and become my greatest teacher – testing, tempering, and healing me in ways I could not have foreseen when I began. It offers me peace and solace in a world in which these qualities are hard to come by.
The stillness of these days creates space, allowing me to rest, to reflect rather than react, and to think about what matters. Silent time has fostered a better connection to nature, and to myself and others. In quiet, I am more attentive to ordinary moments and thus am open to the extraordinary.
Silence has formed a foundation for me by providing the time and fertile space in which to reflect on the kind of life I want to have and the center from which to live it. It has indeed proved to be the quietest of revolutions. It has taught me to listen, and in listening, I hear my life’s song.
Speechless – experience the restorative poser of silence in these simple ways:
- Invite your family to join you in eating a meal in silence.
- Commit to a day without speech. Prepare family and friends ahead of time so they know what to expect.
- Find a labyrinth and walk it in silence.
- Spend a few quiet hours alone in nature.
- Take a one-day sabbatical from email, phones, radio and TV.
- For one day, perform household or gardening chores in silence.
The quietest revolution – what makes silence a radical act?
By Anne LeClaire
Yoga Journal June 2009