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01/26/2006 Archived Entry: "Latest report from my year of silence"

MORE ON MY YEAR OF SILENCE. It's been about a month since I began the gradual process of disconnecting and silence-seeking. On February 1, I quit being gradual and dive in headfirst. On that day, the telephone line goes and I begin a 10-day silent meditation workshop.

Many people have wished me peace (and I thank you). But ironically these first few weeks have been more than a little nervous-making.

Indeed, I got some instant peacefulness by cutting down on the hours spent answering email. That was a very big deal. But otherwise, prepping for the workshop and taking steps to get rid of some "essential" forms of communication while still facing the necessity of (you know the drill) earning a living have kept me in an inner tizzy.

Learning that the publisher of four of my books was suddenly going out of business also made life ... interesting.

Still, each time I take the step of committing to a change instead of just dithering about it, my heart lightens.

I must admit, though, that the prospect of the workshop fills me with fear. Hard to explain why. I'm actually looking forward to not communicating for 10 days. No talk, no writing of any sort, no communicative gestures. Participants aren't even allowed to bring a book to read. Not since I uttered my first baby-words and started mangling my beloved Golden Book copy of Cinderella have I Not Communicated.

But I think a brief period of Not Communicating should be refreshing for a professional communicator, so it's not that that worries me.

The closer to get to this class, the more aware I am of my own incessant inner-chatter, my own physical and mental restlessness. Though lazy as a pig, I'm always on the move. Never still. I talk to myself. I tap my toes. I do three things at once. I think fast and move fast (though not always, alas, with great purpose). I always have to be engaged in some activity. And when I'm not, my body tends to tense up to the point where I can become almost physically ill.

I'm afraid that silent, still meditation will actually leave me a nervous wreck, head aching and stomach in knots -- the exact opposite of what it's meant to do.

I feel embarrassed confessing that. I want to be the balanced, centered, poised Wise Woman. I want life to flow into and out of me without endless struggle and resistance. That's why the silence-seeking. That's why the workshop.

I guess I really, really need it.

I've begun practicing Hatha yoga again. I've done yoga on and off all my life (and really need to do the "on" part more; I was surprised to discover how quickly I'd gotten out of shape since my last session, six months ago). It's a great conditioner for both body and mind.

I've also been easing my diet toward more "calming" foods (which include, thank you JS, some lovely dried apricots) and away from spice-laden, meat-heavy concoctions. (The diet at the meditation center is vegetarian and simple.)

But the biggest change I have to make in myself is to remind myself that change is possible, even after a lifetime of some rather bad habits. I must tell myself that it doesn't matter that I've always been restless. I must tell myself that it doesn't matter that my father (whose native temperament I largely share) became more and more restless and antsy as he aged, not less (something I've long seen as a sort of personal doom).

I must tell myself what I already viscerally know: that I can make change, but that the best way -- in this case and many others -- is not to set off on some rigourous course of Self-*&^%$ing-Improvement, but to "contend without contending" -- to stop trying to manage life and just let life flow through me like breath.

Because I believe that the more I learn to become still, the more purposeful will my activity be. Less will be wasted. The energy I expend will be better spent.

Posted by Claire @ 01:25 PM CST

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