Quiet: how was the experience of spending a week under vow of silence

Wednesday, October 14th. "This is going to be very boring" was the first thing my girlfriend said upon arriving home and trying to establish a normal conversation. Although I had told her before the holiday that I would be silent, on the fateful day I had said absolutely nothing - for obvious reasons.

However, it wasn't that boring and I knew that, most of all, it would be a very interesting time. When the agenda appeared, suggested by Daiana Geremias, a colleague here in the newsroom, there was no definite person to "conduct the experiment" - Daiana herself offered to do it if no one came. That's when I got into the story.

The average number of words spoken by men and women in one day varies widely and I am not far from it. Still, I like to talk, argue, argue and exchange ideas - hey, I even went to class speaker at graduation from garden III! - so spending seven days with your mouth shut would be a challenge. Even so, I volunteered and I will tell you what it is like to spend a week in a vow of silence.

The motivation for ... Well, shut up

Before I started working here in the newsroom, I enrolled in a course to learn about the Vipassana meditation technique. I'm not a religious guy, but after a rather rough start of 2015, I thought it would be a good idea to stay away from your smartphone, the internet and this crazy pace for a few days.

One of the pillars of the course is the Noble Silence - the silence of body, word and mind. Participants are prohibited from communicating, whether by gestures, words or written notes, and are not allowed to use listening devices or even read books.

This is important so that you can really focus on what you are doing and be able to calm brain activity, which is essential for rearranging things inside your head.

I was unable to attend the course, unfortunately, but I saw in the voting agenda an opportunity to try to incorporate some of this silence into my routine. So it wasn't just replacing speech with WhatsApp and mime: it was keeping quiet, whatever it was.

Still, it was a vow of silence: I was not strictly forbidden to speak, I simply chose not to speak - and to reduce communication by other means to the minimum necessary, after all I would keep working, and that's when it got funny.

The first challenges of keeping your mouth shut

First of all, I must confess: yes, I spoke while in the vow of silence. But calm down, because there were three very specific situations and, except for one of them, lasted less than a minute.

I woke up on Wednesday normally, determined to stick to the vote. I made a Facebook ad so that the closest people didn't think it was impolite or anything like that - and maybe it was the worst decision I made in the entire period, as I have co-workers who were really committed to making me break the vow. I'll be back on this soon.

As I come to work by bicycle, I no longer go through socializing situations with the bus crew, for example. But, coming to the office, a happy coincidence: the very day I decide to shut up, a super important agenda appears.

While my namesake Igor, editor of TecMundo, explained what it was about, I simply nodded, trying my best not to find it odd that I didn't give a damn about the size of the whole thing. Of course it didn't work out.

"He can't talk!" Explained Raquel, the editor here at Mega, when she saw the others looking at me strangely for not making a sound. "Wow, can't you? Okay, we'll find a way. Can you use Skype?" I nodded my head.

The thing unfolded a little and a meeting was scheduled for Thursday. In it, I was awarded a 30-minute "vacation" of silence. That was the first situation, but after that it all came back to plan and I still had a weekend ahead.

Symptoms that appeared

It didn't take long: on the first day, I realized that speaking to me was not a necessity but a habit. A lot of people said to me, "I couldn't. If I don't talk, I will suffocate, " but I got the impression that this is not the case.

It's not like we have a reservoir of words within us that needs to be emptied from time to time. The need to speak as a way of giving vent to hundreds of thousands of thoughts is created by ourselves. No one makes us talk so much. That's when I felt a little more calm: I didn't need to talk if I didn't want to, simple as that.

This seems to have become a key in the brain that, instead of processing what I was supposed to say, it was processing what I needed to hear - and here came a second symptom: inevitably, I listened more carefully to what others were coming to tell me. Of course I didn't have much of a choice, but it wasn't just listening, it was really absorbing what others said. No argument, no interruptions, nothing - just listening.

The disadvantages of making a vow of silence

One of the major difficulties with making a vow of silence while you play your routine normally (as far as possible) is that your answers to questions are limited to three options: yes, no, and maybe. Nothing more elaborate than this can be done, no matter how much people insist - and they insist. Much.

My girlfriend started hating the experiment, but after realizing that she could talk without interruption and that I must listen to her, I think she took a liking to the thing. The problem is when your friends and co-workers decide to devise extremely elaborate plans to make you talk.

As Rachel said in the story before my report, everything happened: They asked about my life, my family, made me laugh, and even threatened to use an electric mosquito-killing racket - any resemblance to torture is a coincidence. On the other hand, this also served to make the seven fateful days pass more lightly.

Part of the class committed to breaking my vow of silence - and regretting that I was in this

However, knowing that I was extremely limited in expression, I avoided putting myself in situations where I knew I would be forced to elaborate on my answers, such as ordering food at a restaurant by myself, hailing a cab, or anything like that. .

I also remember that the vow of silence is not nearly an attempt to simulate the life of a person who suffers from some kind of speech-impairing limitation - something very serious and far deeper than the experience of speech. which one I passed.

The restaurant

I said I avoided going to the restaurants alone, right? Even so, on Saturday, I went through one of the most difficult situations when my most honorable companion asked me, "Where do you want to have lunch?" I would love to have been able to answer.

Anyway, we went to eat out. We arrived at the place, flashed my smile as friendly as possible so as not to be rude to the boy who answered us. He handed over the menus and waited for us to decide what we would order.

I pointed to the menu for my girlfriend to ask for me. "I'll want some noodles and some water, " she said.

"And what are you going to want?" It was this question that made me, despite wasting my sympathy, feel like a tremendous asshole. I stared at his face with the same smile I wore when I walked into the restaurant, not uttering a word. I did not know what to do.

"He'll want this hamburger here." Phew, save for the bell. At this point, the boy must think I was, at the very least, crazy. He took the order and asked if he could remove her menu and then asked me the same. "You can too, " she replied. It was magical, it was as if I thought and she spoke.

After the meal was over, the attendant came to the table and asked how was my girlfriend's food, who promptly replied that it was great. Again, the guy turned to me and asked about my sandwich while looking me in the eye. I think he felt challenged to make me talk.

"It was great too, " my girlfriend said, once again saving me. I didn't take the friendly smile off my face until I left. My mate and I seemed to be in a ventriloquist and puppet relationship - and I confess I felt that it had a bit of cheating. Luckily, it was the only tense situation I experienced during the whole experience.

The advantages of the vow of silence

The immediate advantage of spending so much time in silence is that you are calmer. Of course, most of the time it's not intentional, but do you know that thing of interrupting others, talking fast and getting lost thinking about a trillion things at once? This decreases considerably.

Thinking starts to get more organized and structured: you speak slower and take the time to think through what you are going to say. Because I have greatly reduced the use of WhatsApp, Messenger and the like, I ended up using the phone a bit more as well.

If we consider that there are two extremes, talking wildly and being completely quiet, and if you think you fit the first of them, the vow of silence can be a great way to help you find a compromise. The key is not to stop talking but to "calm down" things.

Very cool and interesting, but I wouldn't do it again

Although it was helpful and I was able to draw positive results from this period, I could hardly do anything like that again - in this case, not in the same context, as I intend to take the course I mentioned at the beginning of the course as soon as I have the time.

It's not because you have to stop talking, but because your work routine ends up making things a lot harder - and because, too, your life needs a little noise now and then.

Still, I find it extremely valid that people who are curious make an effort and try to go through the experience. If it's not the way I did it, either through a specific course or with a trip. The important thing is to spend some quiet time listening to what your conscience has to say.


Q: What was the last word you said before you started? And did you plan what would you say first when the vote was over?

A: I really don't remember what the last word I said and I didn't plan my first word when the vote ended - which, by the way, was a "hello" when my mom called me last Wednesday morning. I didn't feel that need to scream an unspeakable word here, but I confess I thought I would.

Q: How did you handle everyday tasks such as buying bread or asking about a bus route? And your girlfriend, how did you react to the silence?

A: I avoided putting myself in these situations as much as I knew I was going to have to resort to mime, which would be a little ridiculous, since the bakery girl knows I speak normally. My girlfriend hated it at first, but ended up finding it a bit nicer over the course of the week.

Q: Could you use the Google Translate narrator?

A: Hahahaha! Not! Playing Stephen Hawking was going to be cheating. I could use WhatsApp and other written media, but I avoided it because I felt I was running away from the purpose of the vote.

Q: When were you most willing to talk? Did you have any urgency? Did you remove any friendship?

A: I think the restaurant was very complicated. I wanted to explain to the guy why I'm not talking, but there was no urgency, thank goodness! As for friendships, it did not drive anyone away - on the contrary, it approached. Some with an electric racket in hand, including.

Q: Who keeps consent?

A: Erm ... I don't think so! Hahahaha