Thursday, October 25, 2012

The sound of silence

What's the point of being completely silent for three days? You could just be drinking cocktails by the pool.
"You're doing this for fun?" confused friends ask before I leave. After spending three days in 'noble silence' and meditating for 11 hours a day, several people with me on the silent retreat are asking the same question.

At the end of the final day, when the silence is finally broken, one woman admits she spent a fair bit of the time wondering why she hadn't just "booked into a resort and spent the weekend by the pool, sipping cocktails like everyone else."

And yet she is glad she didn't.

The beach at Bundagen.

The camping retreat is a dana-based vipassana or 'insight meditation'. Dana is sanskrit for gift and, in the context, means nobody 'pays'. You simply give what you can afford to be there and spend the time exploring mindfulness through meditation, silence and secular 'wisdom teachings.'

Tent in hand, I'm not feeling quite so sure I am doing this "for fun". I am also feeling uncomfortably naked at the thought of being without my phone and laptop, both of which have become, embarrassingly, as 'essential' to me as clothing.

But, I bid my attire adieu (my phone stays with me, without reception, for photos and as an alarm) and arrive at the location, set in the Bundagen community on the mid north coast. Fringed with gumtrees and spotted with scraggly bushland leading down to a stunning and isolated stretch of coast, it's the perfect place to bring life back to absolute basics and recalibrate. The beach is also the perfect place to get in touch, not just with your inner self, but your inner nudist - or more specifically, your inner nudist-bodysurfer.

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