silent retreat/meditation - input and output

by Markfromcali 6 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Markfromcali

    Those of you who find it useful to meditate might be interested in this, although this would be a matter of training the mind rather than getting at the nature of mind.

    I was listening to the radio this morning and some guy that was on had not talked on Sundays for like 20+ years, it started out just as a voice issue but for whatever reason (and it wasn't religious) he kept it up until now.

    I've done some silent meditation retreats, and obviously nobody talks for the most part but it got me thinking: Usually the silence is bi-directional, that is you are not talked to and you don't talk either, but what if you did one or the other? Of course the pure silence is still valuable, so I thought maybe you can do it like this:

    1. Start with plain silence,
    2. then no talking on your part but take in environmental stimuli,
    3. Silence again
    4. Talk, journal or whatever and stop paying attention to stimuli
    5. Silence
    6. Normal, real-time bidirectional interaction

    So basically you're alternating input and output with pauses in between, (although it may be helpful for the pauses to be even longer than the active periods) we might repeat 1-4 a few times too and ramp the time frame involved, but you get the idea. Obviously it's not just about sound either, it's a matter of mental activity which would involve all the senses, that's why lots of people close their eyes in meditation - so a way to integrate that in stage 4 would be to just keep your eyes closed and speak into a tape recorder, although if we want to just involve all the senses you could just be in a simple little room to minimize stimuli while you're in the output period.

    This isn't really new, they basically do this at the end of long retreats to get people used to talking again, but that is pretty brief and limited to social interaction. In terms of sensory deprivation there is also the float tank, and people who are starting an apprenticeship to train guide dogs for the blind live with a blindfold for like a week or two. Speaking of social interactions, naturally during the second stage there wouldn't be anything to elicit a response from you, just taking in information. And of course we do this to some extent in everyday life, but it tends to be on auto-pilot so to speak.

    Well, I think I'm all out of output, what do you think?

  • bikerchic

    Silence is golden.

    I would love to have enough money to build a silent room in my house. One where I could go in and no noise whatsoever could enter. I love just getting quiet, meditating and yet it always seems just as I'm really getting into it some loud truck will go blasting down the street or a little kid will howl.........breaks my concentration totally.

    I think it is good to go inward, silent for brief periods of time but not indefinitely, seems weird to me.


  • Double Edge
    Double Edge

    Interesting topic. So, how long are the intervals that you're talking about.

  • Markfromcali


    Well, of course part of what this points to is some of the noise comes from our own minds, in fact at that level that mind is noise in a sense. You might even say it's a matter of the outside noise not resonating with this noise here, whereas silence itself doesn't need anything to resonate with. Again this isn't really about the sensory silence due to absence of sound, but that mind of clarity. This little exercise would lead to a recognition that internal and external noise are not really different, but a more important understanding is that noise and silence are one and the same too. To see this you can compare the sounds found in nature like the ocean against one which may push psychological buttons. Actually they are both just sounds, but one just stirs up the gross state of mind whereas the other does not engage that set of tendencies. But if you don't identify with those tendencies in the first place, it wouldn't even matter so much if there are reactions to certain sounds.

  • Terry

    The physicist Richard Feynman in his book "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynmann?" talks about his experiments in a sensory deprivation tank. He ultimately became able to guide the content of his dream state. By controlling his own dreams and becoming consciously "aware" within them his dream life became more interesting and less of a subconscious "dumpster" dive.

  • Markfromcali

    Double, ideally it would just be a bit longer than the individual can stand being in a certain mode, I can see taking a day to read a book through, taking a day off and the next day to process it, and then a silent day followed by discussion with others, as far as a simple practical application go. But for people who are not used to meditating, silence for even an hour would probably drive them nuts. The point would be any given state gets old, that input is dependent on output and sound or 'noise' naturally leads to silence and so forth. Ultimately it is a matter of the mind not being limited by any state. To me an advanced meditator with a trained mind is not someone who can sit with no thoughts for a long period of time, even though that is telling, but rather someone who can go from thought to silence or stillness in a split second, and back to thought just as fast. The implication is the thoughts are informed by that clarity of mind rather than just environmental data. We actually do this all the time, just not consciously.

  • Terry

    Sitting through a Watchtower study can put you in a proper trance that shuts out everything!

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