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I Have Just Returned from 10 Days of Silence. . .

I woke up at 4:00 a.m., meditated for 11 hours, and ate my last meal of the day at 11:00 a.m.—for 10 days. Where to begin?

Illustration Credit: Mali Fischer

Well, the noble silence, as it is called, started at 7:00 p.m. We gave up our books, magazines, iPods, and phones. The men and women were separated, and all forms of communication were strictly forbidden. No talking, laughing, reading, writing, gesturing, not even smiling. There was also no payment and no commitment. I would live on the charity of others.The silence was a prerequisite for the meditation I was to do—vipassana—a technique of moment-to-moment self-observation that was practiced by the Buddha and is now offered in nearly every country of the world by groups like the Art of Living Foundation ( and What it is supposed to do is to allow people “to see things as they really are.” This you do by observing what happens to you during the silence. Whatever you experience, the key is not to react; you simply observe the feeling.The first meditation session of the day started at 4:30 a.m. with an hour of “strong determination,” which meant I was not supposed to move my body—at all. Not in response to any sensation that I felt on my body, pleasant or unpleasant. I was to si …

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