• Heather Lilleston


My first yoga teachers used to have this ritual when you came over to their house. You would enter and exchange quick hellos and then, without saying any more, everyone would sit down and meditate for at least 10 minutes. It allowed everyone to ground and settle and feel each other out before getting into all the normal niceties of being a guest or having guests, that can sometimes feel contrived or

awkward or just plain not related to the actual present moment. I never forgot this ritual, and even though I have yet to actually exercise it in my own house, it always seemed so advanced and yet so doable and simple.

You know how they say that the friendship is good when you can sit up and talk all night but also when you can be totally silent together. The kind of silence similar to being outside. You may be “alone in the woods” or wandering down the beach without encountering another human, but you don’t necessarily feel alone. You have the sky and the birds and the ocean and the trees and the wind to make you feel like

you aren’t the only living entity around. There is this unspoken togetherness that needs no explanation and doesn’t require words.

When you are with friends, when you are with good friends, you can be silent, but not feel alone. While our technological advances have buoyed us into an overwhelming ability to quote on quote (yes, I had to spell that out) communicate - we have everyone’s numbers and social activity at our fingertips 24 hours a day - we are also in a time where people are flocking to scenarios where they are together, but in a

kind of silence. We see this in the explosive interest in meditation, yoga, sound baths, yoga retreats, and “silent discos”. There is a general realization that with as much communication is at our fingertips, we have to balance it out with an equal amount of quietude.

Silence does not discount or negate communication. Have you ever been half way around the world from someone and yet still known exactly how they felt or what they were thinking? According to many of the yoga scriptures, things like time and distance can be overcome through consistent practice. When you go to a yoga class and you take your shoes off, turn your phones off, and then listen to the teacher for an hour, one of the reasons you feel better afterwards is simply because you shut the fuck up,

and didn't talk, and didn't reach for your phone, and practiced being in communication with everyone around you, from a very different angle. You exercised a different sensory organ that has often gone unnoticed or unappreciated, and because of that, you leave feeling more balanced, and more aware of the whole of what is happening in your life at any given moment.

What I encourage you to do this summer, is find a time to be silent, not alone, but with other people. Go somewhere together and purposely, shut the fuck up. Don’t fill the space with chatter. Listen more. Be still. Let the conversation come from somewhere else. Let the things you didn’t hear before be heard. Share a different part of yourself with those you are with. See if it has an effect on the vocal communication you have after the fact. Hey, maybe even consider sitting in silence together for the first 10 minutes of any get together. It’s absolutely free and you only know it’s benefits if you try it.

Heather Lilleston has been teaching yoga for more than 15 years in New York, LA, and around the world at the retreats she leads in places like Costa Rica, Tanzania and Italy through her company, Yoga For Bad People. Her classes integrate creative vinyasa sequences with meditation, chanting, good music and spiritual philosophy, and YFBP specializes in retreats that combine quiet time and reflection with athleticism and nightlife. Heather is ICBRKR’s monthly Fitness contributor.

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