Dec 7, 2009


Once during a particularly hectic period at work several years ago, I borrowed a chess timer to prove (to myself, I guess) that I had very little uninterrupted time. I would start the clock when I hung up the phone or someone left my office and stop it at the next interruption to measure how much"quiet time" I was getting at work. The longest period, as I recall, was about 7 minutes that day.

I do the same thing to myself when I am away from work, too. If I am home, in all likelihood I can be found on the computer, puttering in the basement workshop/music area, reading and/or listening to music or watching TV. Like the characters in Infinite Jest, I rarely sit still for very long without something to entertain me. And I doubt I am unique there; I think it's likely that many of us have programmed ourselves into a sort of hyper-stimulation dependency.

On Sunday, I took a break from my hyper-stimulation habit (for one hour, at least) by attending an unprogrammed Quaker meeting. Essentially, the way these meetings work is that the attenders (sic) gather together and sit silently, reflecting on God and finding a message or two. Eventually someone is moved to speak, and they do. The others listen silently and then reflect on the words, see if those words change their thoughts, and then do some more thinking.

I have always liked meditation (although I am admittedly not a big practitioner), but I was very surprised at how natural it felt to be among a group of people reflecting together, how quickly the time went by, and how interesting the whole experience was. I was never bored and never uncomfortable with the silence, and while I wouldn't say I "got a message", I certainly did get a few things worked out while I was there, and I find I am looking forward to more quiet time in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. it is amazing how peaceful it can be to sit with a group of people in silence. I spent some time at a monastery and was intrigued when the nuns would talk about spending time praying but they would be silent. For Catholics (and Quakers) a huge part of prayer is listening God - not just telling God our concerns and priorities.