Considering my health issues recently, I saw this piece about a woman's challenge to not speak for a week and was, obviously, very interested.
The author remarks that not speaking, or not communicating in any form (she also only wrote 189 words by way of communication to other people) allowed her brain to engage more quickly without the distraction of conversation and to also listen more intently as she was not focusing on her response.
Despite these benefits, however, the experience of not talking made her "feel incredibly alone" - something I can certainly attest to. Although you are present physically, not being able to join in with conversations is intensely frustrating.
The piece closed with the below:
"My week has made me realise how important words are, for carving our identity and nurturing relationships. But it’s also taught me how easy it is not to listen to each other properly. I decide that, from now on, I’ll speak less, and more meaningfully."
While there are some commonalities her experience differed to mine in one key respect: it was voluntary. This was something she chose to do rather than something that was imposed upon her. And that distinction is vital.
Being a conscious decision to not speak means there is an element of control, of adventure and discovery. Even if there is a negative side to that discovery it is easier to accentuate the positives.
With that control removed, even though there may be some positive aspects, I have been left feeling like a prisoner in my own body at times.
One thing mentioned in the piece was the "mind noise" experienced due to not talking which echoes what I recently wrote about the subconscious voice and how it is largely obscured when we go about our normal day, but is loudest when we try to be silent.
Spending a lot more time with my thoughts is most likely what has pushed me down the path towards philosophy and meditation, which can only be a good thing.
Regardless of the reason for not talking, one thing for certain is that it makes us reconsider what we say, how we say it and whether we need say it all. 1 I am in total agreement with the author on that point.
And that is something we could all benefit from.
- As my voice has started to recover I have also had to become economical with what I say so as not to overdo it. ↩