It’s been a great couple of weeks. Total silence really did me some good. I realised how much noise I have in my life, even though I live in quite a peaceful, rural location in Crete.

Not talking or communicating in any way for ten days was fascinating. On the first day, my mind was all over the place, and I couldn’t meditate for more than a minute without following some ridiculous train of thought. But gradually, day by day, hour by hour, my mind cleared, and it became natural just to sit and experience the present moment. Well, natural for my mind – my body never quite got used to the idea 😉

It was interesting for me that the ban on reading and writing also had a positive effect in clearing my mind. Reading, after all, is filling your head with someone else’s words – more noise. And writing is an exercise in conceptualising and making intellectual constructs, whereas the emphasis in the mediation course was on developing awareness of simple lived experiences. I won’t be giving up reading or writing, or even cutting back – they are too important to my life, and have too many other benefits. But it was interesting to do without them for a while and see what happened.

There are so many other things I learned, but I don’t want to write a long post. It was a very good experience, though, and I feel better for it.

It appears, also, that I’ve been busy publishing new things since I went away. I’ve got a short story in this new anthology published by Hearst Magazines UK. I had a book review published in the latest issue of Scottish lit mag The Bottle Imp. And my novel is being promoted in Blackwell’s Oxford Alumni Bookshop. I should go meditating more often!

What’s your experience of meditation, retreats, or depriving yourself of ‘noise’? Do you like the idea of ten days of silence, or would it drive you crazy?

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rozmorris @NailYourNovel @ByRozMorris
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Interesting to hear your experiences. I’m sure a similar arrangement would drive me barmy. I love having a busy head, and I hate being stranded somewhere with nothing to read. That said, I do have regular parts of the day when I’m not reading or writing, and have to tune into the here and now. I own a horse, and the way to ride him best is to give him all my awareness, to live in the swing of his back and the rhythm of his stride. Of course, if I’ve got a lot on my mind I don’t always… Read more »

Delia (Postcards from Asia)
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Welcome back, Andrew. Good to hear you’ve had a good experience and learned some new things in the process. I think it would be an interesting experiment to try out. I love the silence but not all the time. Sometimes I need to go through noise so I can appreciate the silence more. Disconnecting from the world for a while is not a bad idea but I would like to have a pen and paper to at least write about it. Not sure it would be allowed, though. Congratulations on the good news. I enjoyed reading your review of The… Read more »

Brian Joseph
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What an interesting experience.

I have never done anything remotely like it. I would find it difficult not to read I think. It is so part of my psyche, it would be almost be like not eating. I think that I could do without everything else though.

Corey Barenbrugge
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Corey Barenbrugge

Welcome back, Andrew! It’s wonderful to hear how useful and rejuvenating meditation was for you. I meditate from time to time but usually only for a few minutes. I’m encouraged to try longer stretches of an hour or two.

Vishy
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Welcome back, Andrew! It is wonderful to know that you enjoyed the meditation retreat. It must have been wonderful to be away for a couple of weeks not thinking and just letting your mind be calm and empty without any thoughts. Thanks for the links. Hoping tor read your book review soon.

Emma
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Welcome back!

It’s very interesting to read about your experience. So there’s no withdrawal symptoms when a heavy reader stops reading?

I can’t imagine what it is to think about nothing. (or to think nothing?) That said, if you think about nothing, then you don’t need books to distract you from your thoughts.

I don’t think I could do it. I’d be restless.

Michelle Davidson Argyle
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I love taking regular breaks of silence. It really helps me get my focus back in place. Glad you got to do this and that it was a good experience. 🙂

Alice
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Welcome back, Andrew! Did you stop communicating at all, or just via internet, phone etc… it sounds very cleansing, although I would worry that my brain would track back to things I would rather not think about.

Charlie
Guest

I’ve tried meditating a few times but once I was either too tired or really in the zone and it scared me a little how much awareness I’d lost of my surroundings so I haven’t tried it since. It’s brilliant for clearing your head though, and the calming affect is great. Hope it left you inspired (and glad you’re not giving up writing!)

litlove
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I’m so glad you had a good time – I was pretty sure you’d like it! I try and keep my world as quiet as possible. I’m one of those highly sensitive people Elaine Aron talks about and I find noise to be physically painful (the cinema hurts, for instance). But you make an excellent point that the volume inside my head is pretty much turned to high all the time. I reckon I read about 100 pages a day, and then there’s writing on top of that. I have found, though, that if I’m ill, I heal much quicker… Read more »

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[…] this book, because it showed so much thought. Vishy had seen my posts on the Tao Te Ching and the meditation retreat, and thought I’d like this […]