Staying silent in the morning, how hard could that be? As it turns out, it was much more difficult than I had initially thought. However, even though it was challenging at first, maintaining morning silence turned out to be one of the most revealing and beneficial experiences during my month at Blue Osa yoga teacher training. If you had told me a month ago that shutting down my phone, my computer, and closing my mouth in the mornings would change my life, I probably would have brushed off the suggestion. But, I was surprised to find out that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
From the time I woke up, until 7:30 a.m., a profound silence permeated the Blue Osa property. Except for the occasional screeches from a scarlet macaw, the excited bark from one of the dogs, or the crashing waves of the gulf coast, not a single sound stirred the humid morning air hanging over the yoga retreat.
The Most Difficult Part
For me, the most difficult part of staying silent wasn’t the “not talking” part, it was resisting the temptation to get online. This meant no chatting on Facebook, checking CNN updates, or looking at the most recent Instagram photo feed. I initially panicked a little. No Internet? How was I going to survive?
Back home in the states, I considered the morning to be a time to be “productive.” I could use those first couple hours of each day to “get things done” and “catch up on my correspondence” before arriving at work. These mornings were frantic and stressful, yes, but that’s how mornings are, right?
Each morning I would be jolted from my sleep by a loud and buzzing alarm. I would smash my hand on the snooze a few times and flop to the floor. As I chugged my first cup of coffee I would text and listen to the news. Next, I would check in with emails, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as I simultaneously chewed hurried mouthfuls of my morning meal. In the car, I would be bombarded by commercials on the radio, while juggling multiple phone conversations, and trying to navigate the commotion of my daily commute. By the time I arrived at work I felt scattered, tense, and annoyed.
The First Week
The first week at Blue Osa, I struggled with my strong desire to know what I was missing online. I craved my usual check-ins with family and friends. I ached to follow my favorite social media celebrities and longed to surf the web for fun articles to read. I felt like a child who had gotten her favorite toy taken away. Was I being punished? The entire experience verged on torture. What else was I supposed to do each morning if I wasn’t on the Internet?
After a few days of immersing myself in morning silence, my cravings to tune into technology started to subside. I sank into a silent serenity and actually looked forward to the stillness of each morning. I found that I became more observant. My coffee tasted better and I ended up needing less of it to feel “alert.” The flavors of my breakfast seemed bolder, sweeter, and juicier; I ate slower and enjoyed my meals more. I found myself wanting to use the abundance of extra time to write down my thoughts, organize my mind and set an intention for my day. I began feeling more grateful for the things in my life. I noticed that I was more conscious of what I would say throughout the remainder of my day. Overall, by starting my day with silence, I discovered that a quality of peacefulness followed me throughout the remainder of my day.
Taking time every day to be silent created space for me to reflect. I noticed how addicted I had become to my mindless morning chit-chat and electronic habits. I was startled at how dependent I had become as if I had unknowingly grown an umbilical cord, which linked my very survival to the World Wide Web. I realized, with horror, that the modern world of technology had infiltrated my life so seamlessly that I didn’t even notice how much distress it was inflicting upon my life.
Morning silence helped me recognize how my regular routine in the states had been sending me off to work feeling depleted and anxious. What I realized during my month at Blue Osa was that I was in control of the chaos. I could stop the virtual vortex by simply switching off the screen on my phone or computer, closing my mouth, and sitting silently each morning.
My experience at Blue Osa invited me to be mindful and to create a sacred start to each day. I now see mornings as an opportunity to sit quietly and set an intention for the day, journal, meditate or do yoga. Other times I just enjoy a cup of coffee or breakfast without trying to “multi-task.” Morning silence showed me that I would have the rest of the day to communicate with the outside world. However, the way I chose to start my morning would set the tone for the rest of the day.
With the choice being chaos or stillness, I elect to choose stillness now, through practicing morning silence.
Photo Credits: Dan Moore Photography