The talk strike – Silence is golden

Friday night I went to see the movie Eat, Pray, Love.  I adored the book, so couldn’t wait to see the movie, and even looked forward to seeing it by myself, to really get the full enjoyment out of it (such a recluse, aren’t I?)

Anyway, it brought back memories of the time when my kids were 2 and 3, and I went on a 10-day meditation retreat called Vippasana.  It was 10 hours a day of silent meditation for 10 days.  I couldn’t speak to anyone, look at anyone, or gesture to anyone for 10 whole days! I had always wanted to know what my mind would do if I was a monk, or had to live in silence and I really enjoyed the serenity and peace that that time gave me (after the initial mind madness dissipated of course….around about day 4).

18123003_sSo inspired by the movie and the memory of that peace and quiet I decided last Saturday, while my husband was at work to stop talking for an hour and see what happened.  I explained to the kids that “mummy’s not going to talk for the next hour”.  Cody said, of course, “why?”

I simply said, “because sometimes you feel more peaceful and get a different perspective on things if you don’t have to talk”.  I’m sure he had no idea what peaceful or perspective meant but he seemed happy with that answer.

So for the next hour and a half (I was enjoying myself too much), I said nothing. I gestured…a lot, as the kids continued with their normal behaviour, you know fighting, playing, asking for food, drinks, demanding things, lol.  But what I found is that there were so many times where I would have intervened with their fighting, or lectured them on something they were doing that I didn’t want them to, or just talking in general where it really wasn’t necessary to say anything.

There were a couple of times where I had to put Ryan in time out, which was interesting without talking.  I would show him what he needed to be doing by pointing and gesturing, which I could tell that he fully understood, and then when he wasn’t doing it, I would count 1, 2, 3 with my fingers, (which he definately understands, lol) and then when he didn’t do it, I simply pointed to the laundry (the time-out centre) and he knew exactly what he had to do.

The funny thing was that I didn’t feel the normal reactions to the fighting and challenges that i normally would.  When I talk, it’s like the feeling of annoyance or frustration over the behaviour escalates and makes it worse.  When you are in silence you are breathing properly  and have your attention more on how you can handle the situation without talking, rather than being consumed by the behaviour itself.

All, in all, it felt so much quieter in the house without me talking, even though the kids were still as noisy as ever and the TV was on.  There was a peace inside me that is not as prevalent as when I am talking freely, and I really liked it.

Of course its not something that I would do all the time because I want to and need to communicate with the kids.  I spoke once at the end of that hour and a half because Ryan got into the cupboard below the sink and found the exit mould, so I had to speak to tell him how dangerous it was and to never to touch it again.  The funny thing was he actually listened more intently to me.

I know that if things feel hectic around here again, and the noise of the house is really getting to me, this is a great way for me to restore some peace within me again, without having to escape the house.

Needless to say, I have recommenced my daily (or should I say nightly) ritual of 1 hour of meditation.  This is something I think every person needs to do to reconnect with some internal peace, especially for parents who are always around noise.

I would highly recommend that you give this a try around your house and see what happens.  I think you will be surprised about how relaxing this is, and might even find it quite insightful, as you really get to hear the thoughts in your mind that contribute to your normal reactions towards the kids’ behaviours.  My only disclaimer about this exercise (which I’m sure you would do anyway) is to talk if you need to – like if your child is in danger or there is something really important that you have to say.  Just say it, then go back to your silent retreat.

Please let me know what your experiences were if you try it.  I’d love to hear them.

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