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Silence is intimidating and hard to find in a world that is busy, loud, and chaotic – and this is precisely why it is necessary. Kavina T., a recent participant in our Silent Retreat and an Art of Living volunteer, recently shared her experiences and thoughts on this life-changing course.
I’ve been doing this kind of inner work since 2010. I do skin care for a living and have a very intimate relationship with all of my clients. They ask me, “How come you’re so calm?” They want to know. And when I told them I was going to do a silent retreat and they went wild. They asked, “You‘re really going to be silent for a week? You could choose to go anywhere and you’re going to go be silent?”
I told them, “Oh yeah!”
There’s a lot of resistance to silence. People, my brother-in-law included, think that it’s not very much fun, and there’s also a fear that they’ll lose their freedom somehow – people are sometimes afraid that they’re going to have to subscribe to some dogma. But I’ve found silence is a practice that brings such freedom in life.
Silence Over Shoes
At the beginning of the retreat, the instructor asked me what I’d like to gain. I said commitment. I tend to get really involved, then I’m like, “No, I don’t want to be happy. I’m going to go do other things.” Really destructive things. But then there comes a point where I realize that that is not who I am and not where I want to be. Coming back to the practice of silence reminds me that I am peaceful, I am calm. The silence of who I am is always here, it’s just that we cover it up with so much distraction, and I’m good at distraction – I like shopping. I love shoes, but this silence wins over shoes.
Domestic Violence and Silence
I’m a survivor of domestic violence, so I have a lot of post-traumatic stress. It’s hard to get quiet sometimes, and my first experiences of silence were characterized by a lot of emotion. I had so much anger that I wasn’t able to express to my abuser, and it was scary. It was scary to be by myself. It was scary to listen to my thoughts and even scary to be sad. When you’re trying to survive, you don’t get to be sad. You just have to survive. But even though it was difficult, I was hooked because silence gave me a glimpse into what life could be like for me. Peaceful.
Finding Stillness Amidst Chaos
The silence really made me think about how busy and bold our daily lives are. How much talking there is. I got a chance to observe that, which was great. In our daily lives, we don’t see how everybody is coming at us, how bold and big their personalities are—we’re all just hitting against one another. It was nice to just get quiet and observe that rather than participate in it, and to realize that it’s still possible to find stillness in a busy life. You can still hold onto the joy and expansion stillness gives you.
There’s just nothing like the Art of Living, and there’s nothing like silence. There’s nothing that can bring you what you are looking for outside of yourself—whether it’s shopping or whatever else you do to try to cope, none of these things can give you what silence does.
The Silent Retreat
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Our peak season runs April–November, so space fills up quickly during that time.