Meditation is permission to check out from the rat race and connect to the here and now- to sit, breathe and think in silence. If you practice meditation, you know why it is called a practice. It is difficult and at times frustrating to focus your mind on nothing. It is difficult to stop thinking. I recently decided to expand my meditation practice and challenged myself to 48 hours in silence. No speaking, no computer, no cell phone, no means of communication. Much like going to a new place on vacation I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised when I got there. In fact, I was so at peace I remained silent for 84 hours.
The very first day I realized that most of my thoughts are preparations to speak and as soon as I gave myself permission not to speak my thoughts decreased. With decreased thoughts, creating focus became easier. Meditation became easier. On the second day, I was able to relax more deeply into my inner landscape because there was no obligation to respond to anyone. Communication carries with it the weight of obligation and silence took the pressure off. After almost 4 days, the greatest gift was gratitude. Silence taught me that I am ok without words. In fact the biggest lesson I learned was that I am fine, just the way I am. Speaking I realized can become a distraction like anything else. Much like making a To Do list and creating a false need to “get it all done.” Much like being compelled to go shopping when you have a well stocked fridge or creating a false expectation so you have something to worry about. Words become noise if they aren’t chosen carefully. Talking becomes just another thing to fill our day.
Much like when I return home from a terrific vacation I always wonder, how can I feel like that more often? When I ended my silent meditation I felt the same way, I craved the ease I felt in silence. I learned that my words have to improve my silence. John Lennon said it best “Half of what I say is meaningless” So now, I carve out bits of silence throughout my day. I turn off the radio when I am driving, I mute the commercials and I make a conscious effort to quiet the static as much as possible.