Monday, May 24, 2010

Being Silent is Good for you


Photo credit: The Sunday Tribune - the name of the photographer isn't given, alas.


On Saturday I took part in 'Chris Doris: 10 Poets Observe in Silence,' in the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. There was a piece about it in the Sunday Tribune yesterday and a photo of us all in the round. This is the most challenging, and yet most rewarding, piece of art I have contributed to in a long time.

What we were asked to do was simply to remain in the present, be silent and observe across the day, for just under six hours. We took breaks every hour and had a lunch break. And so the hours passed, with each of us trying to remain in the now, not wander off in our own thoughts, but let the day pass. And it did pass, serenely, quietly - the Hugh Lane has the sort of acoustics you get in a church or cathedral, which I thought lent a sort of 'holy' quality to the day.

You can call me barmy, if you wish, but I got a lot from it. Maybe you had to be there :)

14 comments:

Rachel Fox said...

You're not barmy Barbara...but quakerly maybe!
x

Niamh B said...

Were there any giggles at all? eye contact? loud breathers?

Padhraig Nolan said...

Does chairs don't look that comfy - given the length of time. Did Chapman's eyebrows maintain the silence?

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Barbara, I wouldn't write posts so often in my blog, I would like to let one sediment for almost a week, but something always happens...in this case what has happened and made me write is your latest post on the ten poets in a circle of silence... so very engaging.
So I have written about "meditation" and what I ( very little) have experienced about that.

Titus said...

No, this is fascinating. The remaining in the now a major part of the challenge, I would think. And what did you talk about over lunch?

Dick said...

It sounds like ('sounds' like?) something I could really do with right now, Barbara! Good for you.

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

I can quite believe you'd get a lot from it. I have spent a quiet weekend (partially 'silent') at a retreat ... it remains one of my most cherished times. I hope you have loads of material to use for your writing now. :)

BarbaraS said...

Rachel, that's a good way of putting it; 'quakerly' - can I use that word - I think I can :)

Niamh, no - surprisingly there weren't. I think we were all taken by surprise with this one :)

Padhraig, you're dead right - those chairs were not conducive to comfort. But that was probably A Good Thing - saved us falling asleep!

Davide - I'll pop over and see what you thought :)

Titus - thanks for your vote of confidence. Staying in the now, or mindfulness as it is called, is actually quite hard to do. Our brains are so distracting sometimes.

Dick - I'm laughing at 'sounds like' - I say that myself in blog comments. I think it's because when I read I have a little voice in my head reading it. Doing the experience with a group of people made it incentivised, if you will. Doing anything like this as an organised activity always seems to work best for me. On my own there are too many distractions :(

Kay - I am storing up what I thought afterwards and waiting for the 'ping moment' to set me going. It was very good; glad to hear you got a chance to do the same. We writers need so much time alone to do our work it's surprising that we can live with other people sometimes :)

BarbaraS said...

Oh, and over lunch we talked about what we were getting from the experience - as well as a bit of 'shop talk': we are poets after all :)

Rachel Fenton said...

Did you talk in your breaks though?

Hmn...not bonkers...I'm rather envious of the chance for total quietude...would need a comfy seat though to avoid senior "oomphs"!

BarbaraS said...

Well Rachel, we just had time to have 'comfort breaks' and a quick check-in with our 'leader' Chris Doris. Didn't really have time to get into conversations.

Michelle said...

Sounds blissful.

Ros Barber said...

Sounds wonderful Barbara. Wish I could have been a part of it too.

BarbaraS said...

Thanks Michelle and Ros - I think all the poets who took part really gained as much as they gave.