Unplug Challenge

Find silence.

  • Amy

    To find silence, I literally need to leave New York City. I think there should be an 11th principle: get thee to the woods!

  • jaz

    i have never been religious, just spiritual, and as someone who for 5 years now has been practicing a sabbath (i call it silent sunday or GOD (get off the grid) day 🙂 ) and training my life coaching clients in it, i have had lots of opportunities to experiment with these principles. especially silence. i found many ways to get around the din of noise that we seem to be immersed in wherever we live; even when we are hiking we hear planes and machinery and barking dogs and distant freeways.

    mind you, my goal is always to seek out as silent a place as possible, it's more honoring of my intention. AND, i found that there were often intrusions nevertheless, and the spirit of sabbath, which is restfulness and gratitude was impacted if i created judgment and irritation and “not enoughness” around them, rather than accepting them and playing with the learnings inherent in experience the now as it is, without resistance.

    for a while i lived in a very noisy neighborhood, the mission in san francisco, and it was wonderful training for being able to experience silence in any situation. remember the rule is “FIND silence”. that means you may have to look for it. when you look for silence you will be astonished. even the noisiest experience is happening within an ocean of silence. i've started to write a chapter on this in my upcoming book, so this topic is fresh for me. i really believe in this sabbath manifesto, so would like to share some of my tips and hope they're helpful.

    For finding silence in a noisy space, or when interruptions happen:

    1. Listen for the silence that happens BETWEEN the sounds. Enter into them, really experience the waiting, still quality that surrounds you. notice how sounds rise up out of this sea of silence and fall back into it. what you put your attention on grows, so the more you listen BETWEEN the sounds, the more that silent space expands.

    2. Even if you are in a space with nearly continual noise, like a construction zone or a rave 😉 , you can find silence by noticing all the things around you that are NOT making noise. The tables, the chairs, your clothing, your eyeballs as they look around, your thoughts. Most of the things around you are silent. As you listen to them NOT making sound, the noisy things will recede and the silent things will come forward. you'll see and feel (“find”) all the silence that is in existence, that never goes away, that's around you at every moment.

    3. I generally would avoid social plans on sabbath, other than being near the people who live with me. its my way of finding silence and resting, and connecting with my most immediate connections. if you have family or roommates, you may agree to continue verbal communications with them, or as a family you may decide to keep silence. i've tried both and both are instructive and restful. even if you decide to continue talking with them, there are ways to find and expand silence. also, at times i've been invited to a function i just can't honorably miss, like a birthday or a wedding. at both those times i look for the silence within the connection. a glance, a hug, a smile, all are silent. listening intently to someone else, not jumping in, not saying mmhm, uhuh, is silent. quietly enjoying and talking in the scene around you is silent. you don't have to do anything to deserve to be there. your presence is enough. in fact, when i've done this, people have often spontaneously commented on how lovely it is to be around me today, or some equivalent. even when they don't know about my sabbath they pick up on the quiet restful energy of the silent space i'm keeping around me and inside me.

    technically i should be able to keep this up and still talk to people, but i find it's much harder. talking can quicky become a distraction from keeping silence. so even when i'm with my family or at a social function i look for subtle ways to minimize talking. a lot of what we communicate is chatter and filler talk. it can be such a wonderful experience to be in the kitchen with a friend or a partner, cutting vegetables, listening to the silence between the sounds, between you and your companion. it may initially seem like an awkward, empty silence needing to be filled but that's more about your issues than anything wrong with silence itself. if you're really intentional about your sabbath, including resting in and finding silence wherever you can, the experience quickly transforms, the silence becomes rich, full and precious. you connect with the enoughness of the moment, of your companion, of yourself. you let yourself and the space just be, and stop feeling the urge to “do” all the time. you may even notice how talking is a form of doing, of manipulating the space around you, that you engage in compulsively.

  • swabby429

    As I get older, I find that I “need” fewer entertainment items that generate visuals and sounds.

    Sometimes, I just sit in my favorite chair and look out the window enjoying the frolicing squirrels and the birds.

    Sometimes at night, I just sit in my living room with the lights switched off and ponder the shadows on the window shades.


  • migdalorguy

    I don't “do” silence well, nor do I care to do it well. I know this puts me at odds with common sense and tradition, but silence just isn't me. Now, maybe I would indeed be a better person if I could find a way to make silence a part of my life. G”d knows, I have tried. For 54 years.

    So can I humbly suggest that, for those of us for whom silence is simply not a viable option, how about just “quiet?” Why isn't quite enough? The “silence” requirement is just to new-agey and meditative for me. I used to have a cartoon on the wall of my office that pretty much summed up how me and meditation get along. In the first few panels, a facilitator urges his student to “visualize the hole.” In the last panel, the student asks “where's the donut?”

    I appreciate the natural setting and sounds of a Walden Pond. Yet it is not a silent place to me. Nor are the many trails I've hiked, lakes and oceans I've boated and floated upon.

    Please, Reboot and Sabbath Manifesto folks, seriously consider rethinking “silence” and consider substituting “quiet.” I know I'm not alone in this.

  • Sharon

    I agree, I don't think silence is for everyone, but calmness, peace and a quiet spirit is what most are seeking and needing. Sometimes total silence is deafening. And it can be lonely for some. Everyone can have 'the calm' and they need to be able to experience it at least one day of the week! I do enjoy keeping Sabbath differently than the other 6 days of the week. It is my quiet time from the world….but not from those that are close to me. It is also a time to rejoice with thankfulness, and that isn't always meant to be 'silent'. Picking out a snatch of total silence between noises sounds like too much work. You can choose to be at peace in a crowd. It is a mind set, a tuning out….your choice to be peaceful as the world erupts around you. It also helps to avoid the very things that wind you up….stay out of stores, refrain from doing business, minimize freeway exposure, turn off the news…all stressful stuff. It really is very simple…but it is your choice.

  • lfalls

    Lol, the thing I love about all the comments on these pages is you're all so very literal. A lot of academic discussion on the various natures of one or two words.
    Not criticising, just find curious 🙂

  • lerner44120

    Interesting concept; not so sure how it fits in with shabbos, except as you unplug and find the conversation between people, silence also grows as the space between words and the space between thoughts.

    on the other hand, it does seem part of the kabbalistic notion of shabbos

  • mmshfry

    I would suggest that in order to practically Find silence, you may need to AVOID religious houses of worship — that's right! In at least the jewish tradition, Sabbath-silence is nearly impossible to obtain at synagogues, with the exception of silently and privately saying the 18 Benedictions (Amida). I would easily say that everything else that occurs in a synagogue in particular is practically designed by inception to ELIMINATE silence: the extensive blessings publicly recited OUT-LOUD; the continuous spoken-out answers of “amen” following the cantor's recitation of blessings; the various spoken-out readings of sections of the Old Testament(Torah); the various spoken speeches/sermons/announcements publicly delivered by rabbis and other laypersons. IMHO, doesn't even matter if it's in NYC or anywhere else… the same darn thing applies and Finding silence must be done OUTSIDE of the synagogue!

  • http://www.churchasart.com/blog Troybronsink

    I love these tricks toward wholeness! As an abbot of an emerging spiritual community we've had to add the same tricks to our gathers to avoid the very thing mmshfry points out. So much of religion funds anxiety and our coping mechanisms through endless debate.

    l i s t e n i n g , is definitely a lost art worth uncovering, and silence is the beginning I need to return to day after day.

    “Accept what comes from silence.
    Make the best you can of it.
    Of the little words that come
    Out of silence, like prayers
    Prayed back to the one who prays,
    Make a poem that does not disturb
    The silence from which it came.”

    -Wendell Berry, from How To Be a Poet

  • Leslie

    All sound comes from silence and thus returns. I like to listen for the silence between sounds, and before and after the sounds. This practice relaxes me. On the other hand, I get very startled by sudden, unexpected sounds. I am trying to let them pass through me. It's hard in a noisy world full of beeps and sirens (rural areas can seem louder than cities because the noises are intermittent, coming at you like swords, rather than being a constant sea of noise). It's a practice, letting the obtrusive sounds wash over you. I've been thinking of Yeat's poem “Long-Legged Fly” often these days. . . . “Like a long-legged fly on the water, his mind moves upon silence.”

  • WoodStockGranny

    I sooo love this! We’re committed to taking the sabbatical once a month ( while in school) then weekly. I will NOT be a slave to any device, nor will I allow music to tell me what to do! “Move to da left, Move to da right, step back, now raise your hands.” Just shut up and let me dance dammit!

  • Wendybel

    I found silence by not having any electronic device demand my attention. I never realized what a slave I was to the beeps, rings, and whistles of technology. I found silence in not waiting for something to intrude on my thoughts. It was very restful. I slept so well Friday night that I will unplug again this Friday.

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