Sunday, May 1, 2011

DOS: 1, Jenn: 0

As some of you know, yesterday I was doing my first Day of Silence for Yoga Teacher Training. We have to periodically do these and I had been putting it off. During them, we can communicate any way other than talking - gestures, writing, etc. Just no talking.

The day started pretty difficult. In the morning, Alex had been drawing some pictures while waiting for us to wake up. I had warned him the day before I wasn't going to talk, but it still broke my heart not to be able to tell him how good his pictures were. I clapped and gave him a thumbs up, but a four year old is really looking for verbal praise. He seemed to understand, but his smile was definitely not as big as when I tell him what a good job he did .

Next up came a dog walk with a fellow yogi. Between us we had 3 dogs in the car headed to the park where they would get to run free. We were respectful of the day of silence and rode the 30 minutes just listening to the radio. There was so much I wanted to talk about! I wanted to tell her about the park we were headed to, ask about some homework, talk about anything and everything - since that's what we do when we get together. I had brought a pen and paper, but something told me writing while driving is even more dangerous than texting while driving so I refrained.

Once at the park, I had to break silence just a bit to let her know we need leashes for just a little part then we could let them off. I also had to break a few times to call my dog back - no Day of Silence was worth losing my Oliver in the woods! Other than that, the walk stayed pretty quiet. At first it was weird, but slowly I got lost in my own world and just enjoyed the 60 degree day. For an hour we just walked - together but in our own heads. However, once we approached the car again, we both exploded with talking. Like it had been building up the entire morning and we no longer had control over it. We chatted about yoga stuff - the class, the homework, the readings, etc - so I felt a little bit ok since the talking had been at least on topic :)

I decided to try again after I dropped her off. I managed to stay quiet a good portion of the afternoon - just doing yardwork and chores. I found myself giving lots of hugs to express myself to my boyfriend and his son, instead of words. It was difficult not to answer when Alex would yell from another room, but then he would remember and come into where ever I was to ask me something. That was pretty nice - curbing the across-the-house-yelling.

We ran to the store and I finally had to break silence, since we were discussing what we needed for the backyard project-de-jour. Writing and gesturing just wasn't conveying my image of the finished yard. So I started talking, but only when necessary. This is when I learned the most. Instead of instantly replying, I thought about it in my head first. Was this just smalltalk (meaning it wasn't necessary to respond)? Was there a simple nod I could give? What would be the detriment if I didn't speak here? I really noticed my strong instinct to just talk talk talk. I also cut out about 85% of the responses I wanted to say. I kept things direct and to-the-point. It really made me realize how much we all talk for the sake of hearing ourselves talking.

All in all, I didn't succeed in doing an entire day of silence. I did, however, learn to quit talking so much. To think about the value of what I am about to add before just saying it. I gained an awareness by listening to how much others talk and realizing I am usually the same way. It was really nice to be in quiet for a while - even though I was the one doing the day of silence, others seemed to act quieter around me. Things were softer, more peaceful. I'll be trying it again, but for now, I am happy with the lessons learned and that I lasted as long as I did.

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