Each year Deep Spring Center offers several retreats focused on deepening meditation practice. These retreats are held in Noble Silence. Participants are asked to maintain silence as much as possible throughout the retreat.
To keep your concentration on the practice, you are requested to not read, write, or engage in other activities that would encourage your mind to be busy. An exception is limited journal writing. Quieting the body and the voice also helps to quiet the mind and create a space in which you can observe the mind.
Another aspect of silence is watching your movements, endeavoring to use mindfulness as you walk, shower, open and close doors, do your work assignments, so as to have minimal impact on others and the environment.
Noble Silence also fosters a sense of aloneness, even in a retreat full of people. In order to benefit most fully from this opportunity, as well as respect the silence of others, it is important that you resist the urge to social contact by note, glance, or whisper. You can learn a great deal by watching the impulse to talk or make other contact and seeing what motivates that impulse. At first the thought of silence may be a bit frightening, but with more practice it will become a safe and comfortable way of being. Silence is over at the end of the retreat to allow everyone to visit and share experiences.
A note about online retreats
With many retreats now being held online via Zoom, the same basic principles hold. You are asked, to the extent possible in your home environments, to observe Noble Silence. If you are not living alone, have a conversation with those around you to let them know you will be spending the time in retreat and will be maintaining some silence. You might agree on signals to let the others know when and how you are free to engage in discussion.