The Great Silence

At a writer’s retreat in a former convent, the leader, a Zen Buddhist practitioner, spoke of the Great Silence, a practice shared by many monastic traditions. Silence is observed by the whole community from dinner to breakfast the next morning. At the time I thought, “If I observed that, I’d be single before the year ended.” Monastics by definition are single, so that’s not a consideration for them.

In the weeks afterwards, I realized I can observe an Internet silence, no news or social media. Every night around dinner time I back up the day’s work and shut the laptop off. It is not turned back on until after morning coffee and Morning Pages. I only look at the weather prediction until after breakfast.

Austin Kleon, one of my favorite writers on the creative path, said “You can be woke without waking up to the news“. On our recent trip from Texas to Northern California, I sat with my back to the TV during breakfast. On several occasions we turned the sound down or off. We generally tuned it out. I wanted breakfast in peace. The glazed/hypnotized look on many of the watchers didn’t encourage me to turn around and watch. Mostly these were single people. Couples and families had an easier time resisting the “plug-in drug”.

Try a little silence. It will give you something to reflect on.

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