Philip Fraser has been teaching the Art of Silence since the early 1990s, and has seen hundreds of people transformed by the program. Recently,we spoke with Philip about his observations, and how the Art of Silence can help purify and streamline the human system.
The Scariness of Silence
Silence can appear scary to some people. There’s an association of silence with emotional upset – for instance, we commonly see silence in those who are traumatized, those who are mourning. Sometimes someone will think someone in silence is angry with them, when that’s just not the case. Silence can be joyful and fulfilling.
When you go into silence, a few things happen. You start to really appreciate nature. Generally, we hold the silence course in a place where you can go on nature walks and start to notice how nature resonates in your own mind.
Most people think that being in silence means that you’re totally alone –that the only way to connect with others is through talking. But we find that practitioners often feel much more connected with the people and world around them when they slow down, when they’re not distracted by verbal conversation.
Silence can be joyful and fulfilling.
When you go into silence, you also start to notice what’s around you. You notice what’s happening in your own system, in your mind and body. And it can be a revelatory experience.
It is certainly a challenge to spend time with your own mind, with your own thoughts. That part of silence can take some getting used to. In this day and age, we are surrounded by noise, interaction, entertainment at all times. And this is an avoidance technique – without that distraction, you are hyper aware of your mental state. You have to be present. And it’s uncomfortable.
Broadening Your Vision
Sometimes your mind can fixate on the negative situations you encounter. When you’re happy, however, it’s not as if that situation disappears – but you have learned to put that situation into context by widening your vision.
For instance, when you’re standing next to a pile of garbage, it doesn’t feel good. You might feel gross or uncomfortable. But if you take a step back, you might notice that there’s also a tree. And then a mountain. And then a beautiful scene opens up before you, and the entire world is beautiful, even if there is a little garbage.
When Energy Stays With You
Speaking takes energy. Being active in your senses at all times takes energy.If a computer had to do what you do, it would need a huge battery to process all that information.
Deep rest, which we experience in this retreat, gives you the chance to purify and balance yourself naturally, which means that the energy will stay with you long after you leave the Center.
It’s an energetic, mental cleanse, a release. It’s not difficult or uncomfortable, but you’ll notice it when it’s happening.
A True Vacation
In this course, we honor our need for true rest and rejuvenation, which is especially important in this fast-paced society. Silence gives you a break from so much mental activity –the mind gets to quiet down for once.
With the addition of yoga and meditation bring your attention back to your body and your breath, which creates a tremendous amount of energy in your system, strengthening your life force itself. It’s a battery charge, so to speak, and participants often report that they still feel the effects of this retreat six months later.
Elizabeth Herman, PhD, has a degree in English with concentrations in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literature. She offers writing support to clients, teaches locally, lives in Boone, North Carolina, and volunteers for a better world.