Twice in my life have I been fortunate enough to walk in conscious silence alongside another person or group of people. By conscious silence I mean we chose to walk silently, agreeing that we would not be talking during the walk. Both instances in my life were profoundly powerful, and I hope very soon to share such peaceful activity with others.
The first time I walked in conscious silence was with a whole group of people after the Wake Forest Hit the Bricks fundraiser. The whole day was filled with various teams running around the Wake Forest Quad, and with each lap a student ran around the Quad, generous people would donate a certain amount of money. This event started early in the morning and lasted until after sunset. At the end of the event, many people who participated in the event gathered around to walk a lap in silence, remembering those who passed on as victims of cancer. A few students could not handle the silence and insisted on joking with friends during the walk, but for the most part – over 300 students walked around the Quad in utter silence.
It was eerie. And yet, so powerful at the same time. Very rarely can we all agree on a cause to such a profound level that we each consent to surrender our identity as individuals, expressed with our voice, to become part of the collective whole, expressed in silence. I will not soon forget the day when we walked in silence together, for at that moment I finally experienced the reality and truth of the old saying, silence is golden.
The second of what I hope turns out to be many more walks in silence occurred today with a friend. The chance encountered started thanks to my friend’s propensity to read outside in his law chair and thanks to my propensity to almost always interrupt him. I like to think of our relationship to each other like the relationship of the hermit in the woods to the Arthurian knight on his chivalric quest for ultimate truth and virtue. We are both the others hermit and knight.
Today, before our grand walk, we talked about the value of the moment, and how at this very instant, here and now, we have the ability to pursue the experience of absolutely anything we want. In so many ways, we have complete freedom. That is, complete freedom to do absolutely anything we desire, so long as we don’t allow our fears and rationalizations to hold us back. We talked about the gift of the present moment, to which my friend shared with me, “It’s called the present for a reason. It’s a gift. All we have to do is unwrap it.”
Mind = blown.
After some more exchanging of wisdom, I asked if he wanted to meditate, insisting that it is one of the greatest things we can all do: achieve conscious peace with ourselves by doing nothing but being. He consented! Rather than striking the traditional meditative pose, however, we decided to do a walking meditation, in which we walked side-by-side in silence.
At several points along our brief meditative walk, I couldn’t help but burst out into giggles. The walk in silence felt so good – so right to me. I thought to myself, “Yes! If we can all enjoy such a simple pleasure, we’ll have Peace.” Later along the walk, I laughed for another reason, and that was when we crossed the paths of other people and I imagined what their reaction must be to seeing two grown men walking through the neighborhood, very slowly, in silence, side-by-side. Not to mention that one of us has a shaved head, yours truly, and the other has a flowing mane like Mufasa. We were quite the dynamic duo, and yet – we were doing nothing other than walking in silence.
Please, if you have not walked in silence with someone before, go do it! Your friend might think your weird, but really, shouldn’t we all be able to share silence with our friends in complete comfort? If we feel anxiety in times of silence, surely we have some inner-conflict that we can sort out, and a great way to do that is by practice! Practice silence and experience how all of your problems seem to evaporate into thin air.