I have a special date tomorrow evening — a date with silence.
I’m headed into a five-day silent retreat and have been dragging around this heavy sense of dread like a ball and chain. I’ve had such dates before, and by now I know what lies ahead.
There’s no talking, reading or writing. You can’t numb your mind by surfing social media and you can’t dull your senses in entertainment or news. There’s only one thing to do when you have a date with silence — that is to sit face to face with yourself, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
It’s grueling to have a date with silence as you’re asked to face your busy mind head on. There’s no hiding from fears, rationale or not. The sound of you’re own whining can be quite deafening. You can try to hide or run away, but there’s no mistaking the special characters that show up during this special date. You must prepare yourself to say hello to destructive patterns, repetitive judgments, and habitual self-sabotage.
There’s no escaping yourself on your date with silence — that’s the point.
It’s sort of like being placed in a bullring. You can choose to battle the bull, in this case, wrestle your busy mind, or you can stare directly at thoughts and emotions and skillfully slay them with your keen alertness.
My date with silence tends to include a bit of wresting and taming, slaying and surrendering — heaven and hell.
While my date with silence may sound like the last thing you’d ever sign up for, and while it’s not always pretty, it is always, without fail, transformative.
Being in silence for a prolonged period of time has produced some of the most vivid experiences of my life — in high definition. Being in silence makes everything clearer, bolder, and brighter. After a few days of quiet, life feels, tastes, sounds, smells, and looks more intense and more beautiful.
You don’t have to go away for five days to have your own date with silence. I always suggest starting with a short date — really short — like designating a half hour of silence to lie down on the grass and rest, not nap, just rest and look up at the sky. Or spend a morning lingering around your home or nearby park in silence without devices or entertainment.
Perhaps consider the possibility of what a date with silence may feel like. You may feel the call the turn inward. You may just feel a deep yearning to get to settle down and really to know yourself.
You can schedule this date in a moment’s notice, like in the next ten minutes.
It’s a date like no other. Think about it, you have nothing to lose.