What I Learned In A Week of Silence: My Roots + Awareness {Part 1}

Business_BlogPCloverSilence1Ahhh, silence. I never knew how much I would grow to love it. You see, I grew up in a loud German family. Every reason to celebrate and get together was fully taken advantage of by my mother’s side of the family.

I remember a very fond memory of climbing under a stack of jackets on the bed at my great-grandmother’s house. My brother and I would fall a sleep to the muffled noises of laughter, hands slamming on a card table as the guys were playing cards {sometimes the language changed to German and then you knew that person was loosing}, even louder laughter, soda pop cans opening, storytelling, recipes being exchanged, laughter so loud you would think that would be the loudest it could get. Then, the noises grew quiet and morphed together as I would fall a sleep.

I had such a beautiful childhood, full of family, fun, and picture taking, which I hated by the way. Mostly, because we were forced to stand there while a large group of people would snap away. All of this continued until I was in high school, except the crawling under a pile of jackets part.

The thing I always remembered was the noise and how everyone’s voice carried. Naturally, I grew up to be this way to a certain extent. Outgoing; I will speak my mind freely, laugh often, feel completely comfortable at a gathering, and will speak to anyone.

Fast forward 15 years, I’m a yoga teacher and coach. You can imagine to my own surprise when I found something sleeping within me. A longing for quiet, meditation, and time alone. It was completely opposite of everything I had known from the time I was born. Yet, it felt like home too.

Going on a silent retreat nurtures this part of me and I find a deeper layer of wisdom that I can’t find any other way.

Silence leads me to the needs of my soul. It blurs the sense of time and plants a seed of inner knowing.

Silence gives you the opportunity to look within, but also be totally aware of everything around you. You use the sights and sounds to bring you within. Just like what I learned as a little girl. The celebratory noises of my family relaxed me and eventually lulled me to sleep.

I’ve been attending silent retreats for several years. My first one being in 2008. They only offered it in a week long format, so I was either all in or all out. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for me personally and professionally. I’m completely hooked.

Every year, I’m taken by everything around me. Nature in her glory. When we are in the flow of our usual schedule, we don’t see everything around us. The week in silence opened my eyes to all the beautiful things around me that I normally don’t see. I was captivated by the blue sky and the various green shades of the trees. I had time to slow down and really notice – everything. In our daily life, we’re so preoccupied we don’t even notice one tenth of what is around us.

I complied a list of mostly everything I saw or noticed {if you’re not into lists skip this part}:
1. 2 Blue Herons playing in an open field in the early morning
2. A red fox
3. Lots of sunfish {big and small}.
4. Wild Turkey’s
5. Butterflies of all varieties
6. A purple 4-leaf clover. How rare is that?
7. Beautiful Dragonflies
8. The intricate pattern on the top of an acorn
9. Eagle
10. Very small green frog I named, George. He hung around a while.
11. Sun dancing on the lake
12. The daily call of the Loons
13. Lots of mushrooms
14. Bees
15. Sky filled with stars
16. Woodpecker
17. Caterpillars
18. Snakes. A rather large on startled me
19. Spiders and their lacy webs
20. Love
21. Water lily flowers
22. Deep red Sumac berries
23. Beautiful green Moss
24. Tangled Tree roots
25. Lots of flowers
26. Felt and heard the wind blow through tall Pine trees
27. Peace

Journal entry: “It’s after lunch and I’m sitting on the dock at the lake. It’s quiet and peaceful here. The sun is shining brightly. It’s amazingly radiant. I’ve never noticed the sun like this before. I’m struck by how much energy comes from the sun. My skin is heating up. I, too, feel radiant just like the sun.

I created a haiku about my experience:
On the dock I sit,
Warm wind blowing in my hair,
She elevates me.

Your lesson: Look around you with a new set of eyes. Can you see your environment in a new way? Find something new that you didn’t know existed on your way to work, on a walk or bike ride. Look around you with the excitement of a child. In that moment of “newness” notice how you feel. The nature around you {even a single tree} can unlock the hidden calling of your soul. Stop. Just notice and be aware.

“I want you to be happy, but remember this: happiness is never borrowed, never bought, ever earned; it’s already within you. If you want to be happy go inside, deep down within, in the inner chamber of your being and there you’ll find happiness lies in a state of silence. Learn to practice that every day.” – Swami Rama



  1. says

    I love the idea of your list. I see and notice so many beautiful things in nature on my daily walks with my dog and they inspire me greatly. But listing them will help me recall more acutely all that crosses my path each time. I’m sure they’ll always be a surprise and I don’t want my subconscious mind to hide them from me

    • Teresa Neuhaus says

      I’m happy the list inspired you, Bela. 🙂 That’s exactly what writing it down does. As I wrote my list, I was brought back to each experience. How lovely it is to enjoy the experience over and over. I would love to see your list.

  2. says

    I love this, Teresa! I’ve always wanted to attend a silent retreat, too. It sounds like it’s a deeply powerful experience in mindfulness for you.

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