What is it like to keep quiet when you REALLY want to say something? Can you stand the test?
One weekend my family and I agreed to engage in silence for one hour. We have done this exercise a few times before, during mealtime and while being creative. Eating and drawing is mostly an individual experience so not talking at these moments was actually quite enjoyable and comfortable, for all of us.
This weekend’s quiet time, however, was something quite different. We were playing the game of Risk, where players compete to conquer the world. To do this with no speech or sound effects is quite … testing. Usually, during such a game, there is lots of debating going on.
Now, when someone thought a particular move was unfair s/he had to communicate in other ways or let it go. The eight year old was so frustrated at one point he vented his emotion through facial expressions that included his eyes and tongue doing movements I never knew possible.
This led to (not so quiet) laughter all around. After this release, he continued the game having completely forgotten about his previous qualms. If we were in normal talking mode, this would not have been the case, as he has the persistence of a woodpecker on steroids.
When the hour was up I noticed we all spoke softer than usual for the first while. I was also largely aware of the sound of my voice and what I was saying. Best of all, I did not have the need to talk for the sake of talking, I only said the essential.
By clearing out the excess of my own noise I was able to hear more of the world around, I became aware of sounds far away. What I enjoyed most was that it brought a lightness to my being and I was more relaxed.
I think I’m going to diarise this exercise to practice weekly.