Over the past weekend I participated in a silent retreat with eight other people. We survived three days of silence, in what turned out to be a very rainy weekend in a rustic cabin on the shores of Georgian Bay. We were given a workbook and instructed (in silence of course) to work on various assignments throughout the weekend. Some of the projects were fun and creative, some more meditative and some quite profound.
I loved not having to speak and really enjoyed getting to know the other people in this way. We cooked together, ate together, worked together and laughed a lot. If we absolutely needed to communicate we were allowed to write what we felt needed to be said on a sticky note. However, this begged the question, is what we wanted to say actually worth the energy of writing it down? The answer, most often was no.
This weekend helped me to realize how much can be said without saying a word. How we feel about ourselves and others, is communicated in so many other ways, including, our mannerisms, our gestures, the way we hold ourselves, how considerate we are of our space and the space of others, our facial expressions etc… It made me realize that I am always actively communicating with others even when I am not speaking. My body is my walking autobiography.
We are so quick to fill the void when we run out of words because it’s awkward to have nothing to say. It is too bad we are not more comfortable with silence since when we listen more and speak less it is amazing how much is revealed.
What I often see in my acupuncture practice, is how deeply therapeutic it can be for some people just to be quiet! The body and our nervous system needs time to rest in order for it to rejuvenate and recharge. Specific points are needled in order to communicate a larger message to the body and it is ultimately within the body where the power to heal lies. Silence in the treatment room (and in life) can be exactly the medicine our bodies need in order for us to hear loud and clear what our body has been yelling at us to pay attention to. Acupuncture is a way to help restore balance in our bodies, to quiet down the chatter and allow us to heal and be at peace.