After I returned from a ten day silent Vipassana Retreat, I have been asked "Why would you even want to be in silence for ten days?" That was a good question,I,too, would have thought it crazy, if I had not seen the "Dhamma Brothers" documentary, about the amazing transformation of lifer prisoners (some convicted murderers) after they spent ten days of silent Vipassana Meditation. The dedicated teacher and servers were locked in the prison with them. Are not many of us prisoners' of our own wild mind?
Now it is about 4:30 in the AM while I am writing this - the time of our first meditation at the monastery. The first of 11 hours of meditating, with no talking allowed for the whole ten days. It was not easy, many times I felt like just bolting to the off limits parking lot, and driving away leaving with some lame excuse. I think this early AM time is significant. It is one of the quietest times of the day. In searching for this quiet, this stillness, I am searching for clarity and mainly for peace of mind. And isn't that what we all want really? More than anything else?
Gordon Hempton wrote in his book, One Square Inch of Silence : "We all have special places, we seek to be in quiet, in peace, in silence. Silence makes me feel alive. There are no distractions in silence and it is here that I find what is truly important in life." In another place, he wrote "my most powerful instruction comes to me in silence and it is simply this: That everything in life is about love."
Well, "love" is a very large subject, so for me what distills my answer to what I seek for in stillness, in silence is best described as peace of mind. I went in looking for clarity, and I have more of that, however that is because I have more peace in my life. I continue the practice, the teacher recommends - one hour of meditation in the AM and one hour in the PM - truthfully not 100%. However, the more I become quiet, the more I want it. And practically, it makes me more rational, more reasonable and easier to get along with.
Quoting Hempton again: "There is Quiet, a stillness in all of us. Therefore, we thirst for quiet and silence, as we thirst for water. We search for silence in quiet places such as forests, oceans, gardens, churches, libraries, and in our homes. Our quest for silence comes also in prayer or sleep."
Buddhists have that special monkey mind name for the crazy uncontrollable thoughts that imprison many of us - moi for sure! However, the quieter Monk's mind is better suited for daily life - relationships at home and at work and creativity. The more I meditate, the more of a Monk's Mind I have to soothe my almost out of control mind. Meditation is helping me find that still place within - finally more peace of mind!