What I Learned from Sitting Still and Shutting Up

Lessons from a silent meditation retreat


Try something.
For the next minute, focus on the present moment.
On sounds and smells, on feelings that come and go.
Don’t think about tomorrow’s deadline or yesterday’s screw-up. Be fully where and when you are.

How’d you do? If you’re like most of us, pretty badly. It’s not our fault—our brains crave distraction. We jump from thought to thought, regret to anxiety, like kids who jump from the couch to the table to the chair because the floor is lava. As adults, our lava is the present moment. It’s the only real thing we have—the past is over; the future hasn’t happened—yet we pay little attention to that space in between.

I wanted to hang out in the lava. In March, I attended a silent meditation retreat with Insight Meditation Community of Charlotte. The retreat would be held in the 2,600-year-old Buddhist tradition of noble silence, which in 2019 looks like this: no talking, no eye contact, no phones or computers, no reading or writing. Four days of just meditation, yoga, and mindfulness. The idea both terrified and excited me. Click here to view entire article.