#17: Three Days Silence Reflection
A practice, not an event
Firstly, I cut the originally intended three days of silence to 2.5. The goal of this “social fasting” was to remove the default medium of verbal and nonverbal speech. Last morning I couldn’t do it anymore: I got too lonely. Because my inputs decreased to listening and hugs, there weren’t that many outputs that filled up my experience field, so I felt really empty. That emptiness made me unhappy and I couldn’t find the motivation to work.
Secondly, there are no grand insights from staying silent for 2.5 days. Choosing not to communicate is a practice that is meant to be experienced. It is not a singular event that I can break down. If anything, your biggest take would be to try this or other self-experiment for yourself.
Thirdly, how did it go in general? It wasn’t too hard compared to not eating, because the pain is gradual and not as physical. The hugs got tighter and more frequent. The uncomfortable moments were totally fine: all it takes is to look people in the eyes and they eventually drop their questions. At the core, staying silent accentuates loneliness because it removes the bridge of communication that connects me with other people. I feel this way when I am not heard, as in I clearly see the gap between us as two “islands”. When you are silent over a couple of days, you feel that more than ever.
I cannot remove a core need because it will rewire my brain to only seek satisfying that need. In my silent state, all I wanted was to see my friend, hug them passionately, and thus let them know how I feel, while also hoping they get it. Holding back on the desire to say something meaningful in response is unbearable. Satisfying basic needs is not a choice.
Any self-experiment is a way to build up personal accountability. Not checking my messages, not responding to people in various settings, not talking to myself- this took some dedication: not to the silence practice, but to my personal trust with myself. More than anything, I have built up an accountability asset: when I decide to do something, I know I am capable of actually executing.
The core experience was extreme physical pain at the inability to connect. Once I could hear my heart pounding and another time I was on the verge of tears; I didn’t suspect I would feel so much pain. Despite knowing that my friends were there for me, I still felt the result of not being “heard”: slight detachment, and loneliness. This was a great case study of emotions: by their nature, they are felt irrationally. I couldn’t just convince myself that X is really there for me, I had to actually feel it through communication. All I wanted to say was:
I hear you and I am here for you. I know it’s hard for you to feel it. You have to trust me that I am listening. Most importantly, I want to tell you I love you.
Last afternoon I felt sheer happiness when I checked my phone and said my first words. My voice was hard to control with long sentences, but I felt this unmatched appreciation of coming back. When you remove a default X, you are all of a sudden finding yourself thinking about the very nature of X. So when you do get X back, you treat it more as a privilege and a responsibility rather than a given. There is no secret I can tell you about the nature of communication, but these types of experiences get you on a track of inspecting the givens in our lives. More on communication tomorrow.
🥂To our ability to communicate and to founding personal transformations!