Making Space For Silence In A Recklessly Noisy World - Christine Kane

I’m on another silent retreat this week.

Which makes me remember my first silent retreat. The one where I went batshit crazy.

I was out of my mind with rage at the people meditating around me who felt the need to swallow. Or cough. Or sneeze. The place was like a Nyquil ad.

I loathed the whole lot of them as I sat there trying to meditate.  In fact, for days, I didn’t so much meditate as I seethed.

There would be a swath of blissful silence when the room was perfectly still.  And just as I started to sink into the meditative state I was trying so hard to achieve…

…someone would cough.

I almost shot off my cushion and shrieked, “Holymotherofeverything you people! Can you, for the love of god, stop coughing for 10 minutes, I’m trying to be spiritual here!”

I didn’t do that.

Instead, I continued seething.  Just for kicks, I threw in a bunch of self-hatred at my inability to control this anger.  After that, I judged the person next to me for swallowing. Then I went back to judging myself for not being a nice person.

I was a walking freak show.

And then, on about day 4, something happened.

I stopped fighting myself. I let myself hang out with me.  Like the coolest friend you’ve ever had. The one who loves you even when you’re a hot mess.

The edginess dropped away.  There were frogs outside around the meditation room singing their hearts out. And as I sat listening…all of the trying-so-hard-to-make-something-happen just stopped trying.  The judgment released its grip.

And the silence of the silent retreat became profound.  Not because I reached a wildly mystical nirvana state. But because awareness simply took over.  And all the labeling, chattering, yammering, judging and controlling fell away.

I simply was.

These days, I set up my year so I can attend two 7-day silent retreats.  Even with my own busy event schedule, these are non-negotiable.

The Unrestrained Lure of Noise

When people hear that I’m going on a silent retreat, the reaction tends to be about the same: Horror.

They say something along the lines of: “I could never do that.”

My friend Phil said, “You mean night after night you just go to bed, and you wake up to more of the same, just silence? That sounds like a horrible awful time.”

He has a point.

Noise is compelling.  It grabs at you.  It distracts you.  It stimulates you. It’s like crunchy food that’s got salt and sugar.

Space is, well, boring. There’s no drama. There’s nothing to hook you.  It’s soft and endless. You can’t achieve anything out of it.  It’s a bowl of steamed broccoli.

So, understandably, people want to know why I would do this to myself.  They want lists of the results I’ve gotten so they can let go of their images of me in some kind of cult, clutching my dixie cup of Kool-Aid.

The Soft Squishy Everywhere-ness of Silence

But I don’t have lists.

I don’t even have a satisfactory “why.”

I’ll do my best here anyway.  I’ll share three things I’ve experienced from intentionally creating these spaces for silence during my year.

Then, you can weigh it out for yourself.

Thing #1 – Ceasing the relentless pursuit of input

Most of us aren’t comfortable with space.  We’re doggedly addicted to adding some kind of stimulus or content or opinion to every freakin’ moment.

Consider the little two-step everyone does when faced with even 30 seconds of space…

…reaching into their back pocket and pulling out their phone to stare at it.

Ahhhh, input.  The culturally-accepted needle to the vein (or brain) that feels so good.

Whenever I finish teaching a session at my events, I look out into the room to see everyone heads down on their phones.

At the gym, when someone finishes a set of back squats, they grab their phone.

It happens in a restaurant when you’re waiting for your friend to show up. It happens at stoplights.  It happens when you’re bored at home.

We crave input.  We can’t deal with the discomfort that shows up when faced with space.

Why does this matter?

Well, if you want to spend your days on autopilot just surviving until the end of this game, it doesn’t really.

But most people don’t want that.

Most people tell me they want to create, to be real, to be autonomous.  So if that’s you, then your ability to be creative is directly related to your ability to be with the discomfort (and uncertainty) that arises in stillness.

And creativity is not just about writing a song or making a painting.   Being creative is about making wise choices in your business, your life.  It’s about living your life, not reacting it. It’s about decisions and questions and choices.

Space is where we find our answers. The ones that we most need. The ones that no one else can provide.  Space is also where we truly see ourselves.

And no, you don’t have to condemn yourself if you realize you’re an input addict. You don’t even have to condemn iPhones.

Like any addiction, there’s a gift here.   The gift is to get aware of why you can’t extricate yourself from it.   Why are you so relentlessly hungry for input? For other people’s agendas. For news. For opinions. For whatever.   What are you so scared of?

Only you can answer that and see if you can let silence just be there. Even for a few seconds.

Thing #2 – Creating a space between stimulus and response

We’re in a 24/7 constant stream of thumbs up’s, thumbs down’s, here’s-what-I-think’s, and I’m gonna give you my take on pretty much everything whether you want it or not’s.

And make no mistake…this is brain training.

We’ve trained our minds to believe that these lame little opinions of ours are who we are and that they actually matter.  “I have a thought or emotion, and the world needs to know immediately.”   Think of the last email you received that completely side-swiped you with a knee-jerk reaction to something you unintentionally said.  (Or hell, even the one you sent.)  Was it necessary?

I call it Opinion Porn.

And much like the input that keeps us in a trance, our opinions trap our hearts and souls beneath the clutter.  We’re obsessed by these meaningless waterbugs on the surface of our consciousness.  In the end, they’re just projections and reactions that keep us distracted from something deeper.

More liberating is to pause and witness the triggers and thoughts. Why this tiny event on this one brief day is dragging so much emotion out of you.

So if silence – and all the seething I’ve experienced therein – has taught me anything, it’s that my thoughts are just thoughts and that I can dive after them and clutch them as if they are valuable treasures to show everyone and obsess on for days and weeks.

Or I can recognize that the ticker tape parade of my thoughts – like all else that seems so important – is, 98% of the time, not even remotely true.

Thing #3 – It’s not about being “Spiritual.”

When I was heading off to my first silent retreat, I told my assistant, “If I come back and start saying ‘Namaste,’ slap me, okay?”

I have nothing against Namaste or people who say it. (I live in Asheville. I’m steeped in Namaste.)

But a spiritual practice (or any practice, for that matter) can simply become just another mask you put on.  Another identity.  “I’m a spiritual entrepreneur, you know this right?”

Even something as simple as going to silent retreats…

…there was a sneaky ego part of me that thought I would stop running a company and start, you know, wearing sensible shoes and mala beads.

Again, if that’s your jam…go for it.

But there was an ego trap here.  The part of me that wants black-and-white answers was wondering if maybe Jesus himself would show up and say, “Give up your business and begin this new direction I have seen for you.” (Maybe he would even add something slightly biblical about taking my yoke.)

But that didn’t happen.

In fact, the message I did receive (though Jesus never showed) was this:

Use your work and your business as your practice.  Stay with it fully.  Especially when it’s uncomfortable. (And oh yeah, there’s no new shiny identity in any of this for you. You’re still you.)

Which means I still experience times when I seethe.  I still write articles about ideal clients, getting people to click through on your emails and hosting your own retreats.  And yeah, I still say fuck occasionally.

There’s no new identity to put on. This is a bummer if you’re sick of your old stories and patterns.  But the good news is that your stories and patterns are actually your teachers.  You learn this the way you learn everything else in silence…by sitting there and seeing them clearly.

—-

So, you don’t have to head off for 7 days to prove you can be silent.  Instead, just tell me…how do you make space for silence and stillness (or avoid it!) in the busyness of your everyday life?

103 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Annabel

    Gardening or reading ( I know that is input )

  • Annelise

    Hi Christine – you managed to capture the topic perfectly and in a world of “I do not read to the end if it is too long”, I read until the very last word. Thank you for this!

  • Sarah Marshank

    Hi Christine,

    I met you at Emerging Women years ago.
    I loved you then. You helped me see my business self in a way I had not yet seen.
    And I love you now, especially as you boldly speak to the layers of our human being that are essential to our “success” as business owners.
    Your realness is refreshing.

    I spent ten years in retreat being quiet and meditating, doing yoga and studying the traditions philosophies and lineages focused on the meaning and purpose of life and being human.
    Yes, ten years.
    No teacher or organization.
    Just me and one other person willing to meet the silence wholeheartedly, hoping it would deliver the peace we longed for.
    We spent loads of time sitting still.
    We shut up for days and weeks and months at a time.
    It was brutal at times, in the ways you describe.
    And deeply nourishing and fulfilling.

    I am now back in the world integrating that space into a very messy human life (as opposed to a very tidy monastic one – with its own beauty and its shadow – of course).
    A body of work emerged through me as a result of those years and I now teach and support others to touch that stillness so that it can inform their movement – without needing to retreat for ten years!

    This blog of yours beautifully articulates the why and the how of stillness and silence.

    Thank you.
    I am going to share it wildly.

    With love,
    Sarah

    • Christine Kane

      Thank you Sarah. And the big challenge is that re-entry into being in the noisy world – of business, and content, and social media. How to navigate both is tricky. Sounds like you are doing it very well. (And god, I loved speaking at Emerging Women. I miss that conference!)

  • Diane Graham

    Love your writing, Christine. I can relate to this very well, and love your humor! (My husband doesn’t like me using “cuss”” words, but it just feels good sometimes!) My schedule is too crammed, gives me stress, and I know I need to slow down. We have woods behind our house, so when I’m home, sometimes I’ll just leave the dishes and piles I’m working on at the moment and step out on the deck and look into the woods, listen to the birds, breath in the fresh air, and let the sun shine on my face. Or, go for a walk. When my cluttered thoughts race though my brain, I have to tell those thoughts “not now”. Thanks for reminding us how this intentional peace and quiet is necessary for wellbeing and renewal. I’m glad I “found” you and your programs! Much love…..dg

    • Christine Kane

      Thank you Diane! I live on a river – so I can completely relate to stepping out of the house and into the woods. “Not now” is a great response to all those yammering thoughts.

  • Brenda

    My radio went out in my car so I have a lot of quiet time until I get it repaired. I also get up around 5 am every morning and it is very peaceful while reading devotionals and in prayer.

  • Lorrie

    I work at a penitentiary, so a silent/quiet ride going to work is my meditation. I use this time to relax, to de stress, to reset my energy to calm and peace. I have to bring good energy to the male inmates. I am conscious of my energy as it makes an effect on everyone I work with. I ride home in silence as well. Letting go what needs to be released, what is not mine to carry. Not so easy however. It helps and it’s good to be with me consciously.

  • Cécile

    I don’t do enough silence to have a comment about that yet, but, I do want to just comment on how I love the way you write and think, that k you for those thoughts, they are very therapeutic a d helpful. Cheers Christine!

  • HELEN DAYSON

    Wonderful insights on your retreat… thanks Christine
    I’ve been going on 7 day silent retreat for a few years now and have felt apprehensive about going until this last time in April when I was looking forward to it. … to leaving my phone off for a week, not having to make small or any other kind of talk, and no-one being able to ‘get to me’!
    Irritation abounded while I was there (without fail, someone has a cough and cold), but mainly I became aware of my habitual patterns. All the chatter dropped away on my acceptance of being with whatever in that moment. And there were some beautiful moments, especially being in nature in the Spring. I felt my mind being scrubbed clean, even though meditation was a challenge with a big ache in my hip that started pinging on day two!
    Other people express their opinions to me about silent retreat, usually the ‘how horrible, I wouldn’t last a minute’ variety or think it’s some kind of spa break I’m going on. Actually a couple turned up thinking that it was a spa break! and left the next day 🤔
    Over the last couple of years, I’ve made a concerted effort to simplify my life, materialistically and in what I do. I have a lovely daily calendar with a saying or verse on it about living simply and appreciation of the simple things of life which inspires me knowing that others share similar values to me.
    One is “If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich” (Tao te Ching).

    I loved your article. Namaste.

    • Christine Kane

      Helen – Yes, I understand about people looking at you like you’re a total nutbag for wanting to do this. But I’ve done it sometimes twice a year now – and like it even better than spas or vacations. 🙂

  • GWEN

    I’ve taken my Saturdays back from a day of busyness and running errands, to a day of Sabbath rest. What this means for me is that I am intentional about disconnecting from social media, cell phone and PEOPLE for a few hours or all day. Some days I am distracted by my children, however I’ve started to set the boundary by advising EVERYONE that it is my ME day so please DO NOT DISTURB. On my Sabbath day of rest, I am not rushed to accomplish anything or be anywhere…it’s the one day that I try to not commit myself to do for anyone else or be somewhere. I don’t alway accomplish this because I’m often invited to various gatherings/events which I like to support in reciprocity for the many who have supported me and my family. However, its just too darn stressful so often I just tell people I can’t RSVP because I’ll have to see when the time comes…or I say I can’t attend because Saturday is the one day that I get to be free. That doesn’t go over too well with some, and others are very understanding. I spend my time contemplating life…just sitting without tv, with soft music in the background while reading, journaling, enjoying a glass of wine and usually a hot aromatherapy bath by candlelight. And most importantly, a good nap!

  • Valerie Garrison

    Before I start working I take 10 to 20 minutes to meditate.

  • Kyla Wood

    1. I am not driven by money. I am driven to re-empower myself after eons of giving my power away (as an empath)
    2. I see “hurry” “busyness” and “rushing” as distractions from the truth of who I am, and so abstain from this way of being as much as possible. I feel no need to compete with others, since I am on a very personal journey.
    3. I was blessed to learn some meditation techniques from a master 35 years ago, which colour my life with calmness and balance.
    4. All of which make it easier for me to frequently access stillness. I still have some difficulty letting go of the distractions and the petulant ego at times. Mostly though, I adore slipping into mini-moments of stillness throughout my day.
    Hope that’s helpful, Beautiful.

  • Kim

    I love this Christine. Normally during my children’s nap time I sit and “work” on creating my business. But mostly I just spin around in circles with a hundred ideas and no clear path or direction.

    But this week I’ve been getting a strong message from my higher self/guides to do nothing. To just be. Just sit. Just sleep.

    My response is like what!? But that’s not productive. That doesn’t make me look good.

    But I’m rolling with it. It’s certainly not easy. I get very restless. But during nap times. I’ve been laying in the yard or on the couch and just doing nothing.

  • Samantha Class

    I make a place for silence by making it a priority in my life. I have a Buddhist meditation practice and a creative reflection process that allows a deeper awareness to be revealed… And, Yes! I wear mala beads and comfortable shoes 🙂

  • Patty

    Thank you for this! It resonates with me….I’m always filling up my time with listening to something or watching something or reading something or talking to someone. I meditate most mornings and love that time. You’ve inspired me to make more silent time for myself. I’ve been curious about how a silent retreat would be for me and it would probably be similar to your first experience. I can get very irritated with human noises! I love your honesty and the way you show up in your emails as a perfectly imperfect human being living a messy, albeit successful, life. You are an inspiration!

  • Darcy

    I’m still working on daily quiet time. I take about 20 to 30 minutes in the morning while I have my protein shake and supplements, etc. Usually I take this time without TV, phone calls, or emails. Other days I let the noise in through texts, TV, or phone calls. My best quiet time is sitting on our deck at our cabin on a river, looking in the river as it is rolling by.. Although we are mostly there on weekends in the summer months, it is quiet. I find myself and God when I am sitting or walking on a beach, dock, or river trail. Thank you for the lovely reminder to enjoy and make room for quiet in my life.

  • Gigi

    Some opinion porn to prove your genius – this may be the most profound post you have ever written ! ‘Thoughts spinning like water bugs on a pond’ … oh how true. Regarding a silent retreat – as a sufferer from tinnitus, it sounds like bliss to me! Though seriously, this condition makes it very difficult to practice traditional meditation, sitting still in the quiet is the worst. I guess it depends on your definition of “silence” – I seek out places with nature’s white noise – the ocean, somewhere I can hear the wind in the she-oaks, even an urban walk. I used to walk with my headphones on and music or a podcast, but lately I just walk and if I walk long enough my thoughts run out and I am just left “being”.

  • Louise Wain

    I make space for silence with time doing nothing
    And I meditate on the present moment using my 5 senses including breathe ,hysical pressure aches , body scan inner awareness etc
    Sometimes I feel I’m resisting doing it some days

  • Susan

    What a wonderful letter. Thank you for posting it. I adore silence. I have no t.v., rarely put on music when I’m home (although I have a huge collection and love it..I guess I just prefer silence). I live in a quiet, peaceful place, where the only regular sounds are the birds and the wind. I’m retired now, so get to spend my time at home in this peace. The new neighbor (houses are very far apart here, she is the closest) plays music all the time, and has it wired into every room of her house..even her garage. She is a really nice person, we’ve become friendly, and we (my husband and I) have each asked her (in a nice neighborly way) if she would please turn it down because we can hear it in our house. She apologized and has some, but we still hear it clearly whenever we’re outside, just not inside our house like before. It is so starkly different from before. I’ve even mentioned to her what a lovely place this is because it’s so peaceful. I’ve always wondered about construction sites and why they unfailingly have loud music playing constantly, even with all the construction noise. Maybe this will give me a chance to discover why some people must have ‘noise’ surrounding them all the time. Meanwhile, meditation certainly helps!

  • Cassie Joughin

    Yes to everything. The best compliment I got this month was that my mindfulness is amazing and I realised that I have come far. I choose when I input and it’s powerful to pause. Thank you for so eloquently explaining it!

  • AMY BAKER

    Man..(or WOman), does this hit home today. Been feeling overwhelmed with everything, with very little space for silence, and yet I pick up the phone and look at IG, or check my email for the 10th time this hour, or maybe decide it’s time to log my food.. or maybe eat again. My excuse is I only have a few minutes before I have to work again, or before I have to get ready for class, again.
    The qi gong practice this morning was done sitting down, and was slow enough to be almost imperceptible, trancelike, just what my nervous system needed. I know my nervous system needs quiet, and I have so many ways of experiencing that, and usually it calls to me….. in a bath perhaps. Or a nap when I’m really overextended. But meditation is the one that gets me, and the one I resist the most.
    And what you said about a new life…. I an so bored with who I am …. it’s hard to imagine being in the same life, and yet it also takes some pressure off, allowing some spaciousness to then let in the deafening silence. Thank you

  • Michael Boyd

    Hi Christine

    I work as a stone mason.
    I don’t like radios or traffic nearby and prefer sound of birds.
    I usually work alone and while my hands are busy I find myself with my thoughts which are sometimes crazy but this way of work suits me.
    I used to play music and sometimes still do but now quite like silence.
    Last week was too hot to work outside so I painted 3 pictures. I felt some anxiety as I was not entirely sure what I was doing and why. I felt a bit sick. All those colours.
    Some activities allow me to think and understand although am aware via my critical family I may be wrong. Although they believe I am wrong.
    Thanks
    Michael

  • Nancy Campbell

    Good timing on this as I’m enjoying the quiet/nature sounds of my hawaii home. Was in Waikiki and airports all weekend and the noise and constant input was killing me. Trying to introduce more quiet time with no distractions as a ritual – been doing just 15 min until that gets habitual and easy. Increasing to 30 this week, and doing before the first email check of the day.

  • Anne McClearen

    I’ve forgotten the importance of going away somewhere and being silent. I do pretty good day to day, once everyone has left for the day. I can’t think when it’s noisy or too many interruptions steal my thoughts. It’s been several years since I’ve done a silent retreat or any retreat for that matter. I used to go all of the time. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Melinda V Fuentes

    Thank you for showing us what the application of silence and stillness looks like. Right now, I’m doing some 3am Universe connecting practices (getting tuned into the self I want to BE).

    I’ve been working on the 3am practice for some months now. This current application of stillness and silence has awakened aha’s!

    Christine, your writing today is perfectly delivered (confirmation)!! For past weeks procrastination and angst were causing body aches. I didn’t know why. Today, my “porn” was revealed in my journal!
    It was an ’emotional tie’ that zapped energy like pac man. Energy to work the modules, energy for inspired action! Dullness of pain. See – I had thirst-ed for this porn for years, everyday! Couple years back, the Universe was nudging me about it: #1. awareness BUT I thought to only ‘adjust’ my attachment to it. Nudge #2… few months back (along with body aches): I only ‘scaled back’ my connection to it.
    TODAY, THE AHA nudge #3…as I wrote in my journal clarity jumped out and I felt a release of this TIE that had me shackled!!!!! How?! …not me – I know false attachment when I see it…! I then felt the pain subside: the yoke broke my intense identification to it. My focus DOES INDEED POSSES power to create…. xoxo

  • James Navé

    Recipe For An Afternoon Off
    4 cups of spring water
    1 dozen walnuts
    6 pieces of velvet
    1 dash of mist
    6 guitar strings
    17 lines of poetry
    1 redwood tree
    1 upright piano
    2 streets in Paris
    3 river stones
    Whip vigorously till fluffy. Pour in a pan. Bake on low heat for 4 hours. Remove from oven.
    Invite 3 friends. Walk to the edge of a lake. Serve warm.

  • Patrice A Federspiel

    Thank you, Christine! Your eZine today is like icing on the cake to an eZine I just wrote about “the spaces between things”. Perfect. I mentioned starting to meditate by doing so for just five minutes a day and adding a minute a week (if that felt good). I’m up to 15 min a day and was thinking yesterday that I’m not sure I’ll ever want to do a 7-day silent retreat.

    Thank you for your excellent mentoring. Aloha, Patrice

  • Dru Duffey

    Haven’t been able to do more than 10 minutes of silence yet.
    After the past weekend I’m recognizing my need to begin to practice with longer periods and allow my mind to let go.
    Thank you
    Perfect timing.

  • Dorothy Husen

    Loved this email! Thank you for the reminder that the time I spend meditating every day is a gift to myself – the experience of just being me. A 7 day silent retreat is currently on my wish list. You inspire me Christine!

  • Carolyn

    Hi Christine, I was wondering what you have been up to. I make Early Morning Meditation a priority over everything, even coffee. This is Carolyn, S. Davis, author of “Treasure from the Center the Ancient Cure for Negative Thinking” I also created a Mandala which is featured in the book. The purpose of the Mandala is to help keep you Centered . You can wear it as a necklace or use the wooden stand that comes with the product to you can sit it on your desk or include in your alter. http://www.carolyndavis1.com, click on Stress Reduction. Stay centered in love and peace.

  • Elaine Kraft

    I purposely set aside time for quietness/silence. I also find it while working in the garden or mowing grass! Yes, even tho there is noise around me – I am quiet inside & I love that time alone.

  • Becky Keller

    By keeping the television off. 🙏🏻😍

  • Lori Evans

    I have been taking a little bit of space for stillness with the 10 minutes of boredom a day. I also work at meditating 5 minutes twice a day, once just after I wake up and another time as I start to wind down for the night. I’m still not good at meditating and brushing thoughts away.

  • Cindilo

    I’m learning that less is more. Less words. Less dwelling. Less drama. Less people. Less distractions.
    It’s made all the difference in choosing my time and energy more wisely. ~ Namaste 😉

  • katherine severein

    O Christine yes, yes, yes – I related to so much you say as well as having an awry smile at much of what many perceive to be ‘spiritual’. Going on a silent retreat is such a treat to oneself, such a gift, but for many it requires more courage, more honesty than they feel they can muster – due to how most of the world lives, silence and time spent alone is often feared. For others, it is a must to keep sane lol!!!

  • Tessa Dowell

    First, thank you for this wonderful post. Starting my day with meditation is about as non-negotiable as brushing my teeth — it connects ‘mini-me’ with what I call ‘mega-me,’ creates the space for awareness, and sets the stage for riding the wave(s) of the day.

  • Maru

    I think most people keep checking their phones because we are all at our core lonely. We are craving connecting on a level that can’t be satisfied with anything but what we’re made for and that is intimacy with the God that made us for that! So I read scripture and it usually doesn’t fail to help me feel His presence thru the medium of His words! He is so real and at our core we crave His love! His words bring it to our souls. It takes a deliberate focusing on His assumed presence and the words He chooses to speak to us from The Bible…truth!

  • Trish Rux

    I love retreats for the very same reasons. Thanks for writing this. Spiritual AF.

  • Regula Stucki

    Thank you Christine, you are an amazing woman and an endlessy generous person. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    I started doing silent-retreats (well, so far it was just one 6-day retreat, but more will come this year). Nobody believed that I keep my mouth shut for 6 days in a row. But I could and it has made me stronger and easier.
    All the best to you and your team, Regula

  • Trisha

    I need silence in my home. So, I do not own a TV (nor any streaming system), and I only use the radio as an occasional alarm clock (I do, however, turn it on when I go out and leave my dog in her crate). It is quiet here – except for the waves and the birds.

  • Chelsia

    I don’t make time for silence. I think that’s why I have crazy dreams that run a continuous theme of not getting where I want to be. Silence may help me hear the answers. Your post is a gift to the beginning of my week. I haven’t gained anything trying to know it all.

  • Mary

    I love this! My daily meditation practice is part of helping me to find some level of inner quiet. I’m very aware, most definitely as a result of your teaching, of my own addiction to input, but also of a parallel craving for quiet. I’ve started researching meditation retreats – definitely on my ‘Do’ list for this year.

  • Tammy

    I am competent in bringing in the noise ( but desiring the silence) I removed my tv from my bedroom because I would go to sleep with it, wake in the middle of the night and watch it and of coarse my morning ritual included it. So being a soul that wants more, out it went. BIG HOWEVER ….I simply replaced the big screen with my iPad and now have the choice of you tube, Netflix, prime and am still suffocated with external noise( by choice- kind of) . It like being a smoker who is trying to quit-it’s hard. I appreciated your honest account and related on a deep level.

  • Tova Ramer

    Great subject to engage about. I’m loving the fusion of soul n business. It’s part of why I joined this river of curious and committed people for a year.

    For Silence… Space… I like to exert myself through walks, yoga, qigong, dance etc., so that my body is ready to sit. I like to take time in the am & evening when possible, 10 – 30 minutes. It really does slowwww downnn timmmee. Like in your post, slowing down to speed up.

    You’ve offered a lot of great advice and direction in all the content I’ve seen and I’ve still got more to explore.

    Thanks ahhhhh,
    Tova

  • Tasha

    Hi Christine!

    I have come to love silence. I have three boys so I squeeze it in in the EARLY morning hours….or I literally go to my car by myself and just sit there lol!

  • Pat

    Wow, Christine, your article was so funny and timely. I love that expression Batshit crazy. I feel that way sometimes, but from noise, not from silence. My life is often deafening with the noise of my day and my thoughts. Days and nights run into each other and the noise is still there, kind of like a hamster on a wheel. Maybe what I need is some silent time just for me. Something to consider, because what I am doing is just frustrating me.

  • Sandra Freda

    Loved the thought of making my business my practice..!
    Great post thank you Christine.
    For years I’ve done T’ai Chi Chih first thing every morning
    -it’s powerful and I think the energy is cumulative..
    Recently my husband and I have started to take silent walks in the neighborhood. We pick a start point – such as a tree and choose a finish place.. perhaps a rock in someone’s garden, and try to be present while we walk. We have both found the walks surprisingly peaceful and enjoyable.

  • Sandra Freda

    Hi Christine,
    I loved this post, esp your thought about using business time as a practice.
    How I create space is to do T’ai Chi Chih – a short and powerful movement system first thing every day. Have done this for years and find the energy cumulative.
    Recently my husband and I have started taking present moment silent walks in the neighborhood. We have set start and finish places such as a tree -or rock in someone’s garden ..and we’ve both been surprised at how peaceful we feel afterwards.

  • Wendy Bailey

    Beautifully written and honestly rendered. I’m someone who loves her solitude. I’m acutely aware that there’s routinely too much coming at me and I get to feeling overwhelmed by it all. I need to sit with silence and with myself for awhile just to ground myself again. And the rage? I can relate to that as well. World! Just leave me alone for awhile, okay? Thanks Christine! Keep writing!

  • Roxanne

    Thanks, Christine. You’re writing is beautiful; & what you wrote here makes me realize I’m not alone.

  • Sherri Boles-Rogers

    Silent retreats are like potato chips for the soul. Once you’ve had that first one, you keep putting your hand in the bag for more!
    I experienced my first silent retreat 20 years ago and every year I keep going back for more. It’s like mental detox.
    During my first retreat I was utterly amazed at how much incessant chatter was going on between the ears…the “ticker-tape” of thoughts as you put it Christine. And how by the end of the 7-day retreat I was at least aware of them and could feel the space between them.

  • Anna Tagliabue

    Dear Christine,

    thank you so much for your wonderful newsletter! I am definitely an input addict and need to make a point of having (at least short) input-less phases in my daily life. Once I get myself to do it, yoga and/or meditation always make a great difference for me. And each summer, I treat myself to an “Envisioning Week”, during which I meditate as much as possible and alternate between periods of meditation and envisioning my next year or further future.
    Looking forward to more great input from you 😉

    Anna

  • Veronica Varnel

    I never thought I would like a silent retreat – because I think I’d go mad with lack of verbalising my thoughts. But now maybe it might not be such a bad idea, especially after several years of having literally no time to myself. This is nobody’s fault, it’s been how I’ve chosen to make a living quite simply because I wanted to work from home as well as make a positive impact on others lives. I have been a foster carer for children under 18, and also for adults over 18 with learning difficulties for about 6 years, prior to that I was a house parent for teenage football trainees, and over the years have hosted numerous oversees students in my home while teaching them English. So life has been pretty hectic full-on 24/7. But now, for the first time in 14 years, I have an empty house with just my son and lodger (I still have to make a living), but I’m finding that I’ve got time for me. I’ve always found it difficult to sit down in the day and take time out, but I have started to meditate and allow myself time to reflect – so that’s what I do to make time for space and silence. Thank You Christine… for being so yourself and for your inspiration….

  • Paulette

    Nature walks and hiking are my number one way and I do that as often as I can every week.

    I take a few minutes in the morning to just be still before I get out of bed. I start by being thankful and that keeps the chatter and list of things I have to do from taking over my mind. I breathe deeply and just lay still and for some reason that thankfulness brings silence and peace to my mind.

    At night, I write down all the things I am thankful for and do the same thing. The writing brings calm almost immediately.

    It’s just a few minutes but I have learned to love those restful moments day and night.

  • Leslie Neumann

    Christine.
    I love your newsletters. This one was particularly satisfying. Funny. Kind. No nonsense.
    Thank you, Leslie

  • Karron Lee

    Christine, thanks you for sharing your silent retreat experiences. I think that would be wonderful! In my hectic world, i drive a lot in short and longer trips. I love getting in my car and not having anything on… no radio, no cd, no phone, no gps directions…. nothing. the silence has such a calming affect when i drive.

  • Toni

    Sadly, I live in Brooklyn NY on a very busy 4 lane street. I live near a hospital which means there are fire trucks and ambulances with loud sirens going up and down these streets all day and night. I have no place where there is quiet. There is never ever 1 minute of quiet. 🙁 Right this minute someone’s television is blaring, someone is playing their car radio really loud, there are people outside talking fairly loud. The woman sounds angry. Cars are whizzing by and the apartment upstairs from me always has extra children running around her house every Friday. I think they’re bouncing a bowling ball. I truly wish this was an exaggeration but it isn’t. This is everyday life for me. I would love to do a silent retreat, if only to hear my thoughts. (But I don’t want to hear other people swallowing)😂

  • Tabatha Moffett

    WOW!! SILENCE is something I truly miss! This email was a reminder of how unbalanced my world is right now. By allowing others demands of my time to become priority I have abandoned my personal space/time of SILENCE. Well…as of this writing NO MORE!! I’m declaring and decreeing “SILENCE ” back into my life, along with quality time of mediation and prayer early mornings and just before bed. Making a standing appointment with “SILENCE” daily. Thanks Christine for the “Red Buzzer” warning!!

  • Kelly Flack

    I have 10 crystals. Now, I’m not a carry-around-crystals-and-om kinda girl … but I do take conscious time at least twice a week, to take these 10 crystals out to the back yard.

    I let the chooks (aka chickens) out so they can do chicken things, while I sit on the grass with my crystal friends.

    I hold one crystal and read the piece of paper that came with it (you know, the little 5 sentence description of the benefits this particular rock can provide) … and then I hold it.

    I “feel” it. It’s energy. The moment. The present. My “Now”.

    I see the chickens scratching the ground. I look out at the mountain in the distance. I hear the galahs, crows and magpies as they sing from the trees overhead … feel the breeze or the sun or whatever might be going on with mother nature at that time …

    and all is good.

    And then I put that crystal down and pick up the next one and repeat the process 🙂 I’ve noticed that this takes about half hour and after it, I feel so calm and just really great with life. Everything falls into place.

    That’s one of the things I do for “Me-time” 😉 Love your work Christine. Thank you for all that you do xo

  • Sara

    Had to laugh at your silent retreat experience, as I used to live in Asheville and attended one at a center in the nearby mountains when I lived there. I was the last one to arrive for the retreat, and since all the participants were required to perform a daily chore, I was assigned the only one left: to bang the huge gong outside to awake everyone for breakfast each morning. My god has a sense of humor…

    My roommate at the event said just prior to parting on the last day something to the effect that “I don’t know what’s bothering you,” because I had insisted on staying silent even in our bedroom, “but I hope you get it worked out.”

    My body requires that I take quiet time alone daily, which I do in bed with my cat. Doing so has enabled me to have some important mental breakthroughs. Today I realized that I’m not feeling as well as I could because I am chemically sensitive to the components of gasoline and live in one of the counties in Florida that has the highest content of these components in the air we breathe daily.

  • Susan

    Today’s post really resonated with me. I used to put on my headphones and catch up on the latest audible business books or podcasts as I walked my dog on the prairie behind our house. She’s a border collie, so we walk a lot! Lately I’ve let my audible credits pile up as I’ve spent time listening to the songs the different birds sing, the wind rushing thorugh the branches, or the sounds of kids playing. This has led me to notice things I hadn’t before. Like bunny rabbits scrunched so flat on the ground that you wonder if they’re real, trees beginning to bud, or flowers peaking through the ground. There’s something about walking and listening that makes me much more aware of the visual beauty surrounding me. I’ll stop beating myself up for not balancing productivity with silence. I’m sure I can find other times and places to catch up on my audio library.

  • Elizabeth Beunaiche

    Meditation and prayer, morning and night. Patience, and flow.

  • Nicky Stewart

    Truth shared can be so everything……had a good chuckle in several of your comments so thank you for that. I can definitely relate to what the mind is capable of doing and not doing. EGO being the biggest part of doing. Your e-mail was timely as I am presently putting together a vision board workshop exploring Pain-body/Ego and your article explains so well how our first thought is “it’s everyone else’s fault” that I cannot have such and such experience. I have worked intensely with my own pain/body for over 4 months now and have discovered some pretty amazingly easy solutions.

  • Angel

    Loved this!!!! And love the noise of silence. 🙂

  • Courtney

    I LOVE THIS EMAIL!!!!!!!!!!

    I live most of my life in silence. I’ve always been very sensitive to noise My husband and I do not own a television. I myself do not watch or follow ANY news even on the computer. I don’t listen to the radio in my car and I rarely listen to music in general.

    People look at me like I’m from another planet. I’m a stylist and I used to own my own studio. I didn’t play music. I had real conversations with people instead. Most of the time, they didn’t even realize there was no music going. If I played anything it was soft jazz or classical and people always commented on how peaceful my place was. I recently had to move to a small shop shared with other stylists and the hardest adjustment for me has been freaking radio! I HATE it. By the end of the day I feel so exhausted. The people I now work with can’t beleive that I don’t listen to the radio and I can’t believe their inability to handle silence.
    My favorite quote is from my favorite cowboy Pat Parelli “the music is the silence between the notes”.
    Thanks for writing this email Christine! As always, AMAZING:)

  • Elizabeth McCain

    I loved your story of almost going “bat shit crazy “ at the silent retreat! At my first silent retreat, ( only 4 days), as an extrovert, I couldn’t stand it and found somebody to cheat with! Everyday after lunch for about 45 minutes we would sneak up the mountain, ( in Hot Springs, NC) and vent and cuss and laugh… It helped a lot… Now, 15 years later after a lot more meditation and therapy and energy work… ( endless healing work),😄I am headed to Tulum, Mexico to a 6 day writing retreat to continue writing my book…I’m sure my inner demons, including my inner critic will emerge and have fits… And I can be accepting and gentle with my inner insecure child!
    Thanks, Christine!
    Elizabeth McCain
    Storyteller/Story Coach, Spiritual Counselor, Energy Therapist, and Shamanic Interfaith Minister
    http://www.elizabethmccain.com

  • Lisa Zimmerman

    You don’t have to do a silent retreat to learn how to quiet your mind and focus your attention. Try NeurOptimal neurofeedback training and see how different you feel. You can do a 35 min. session weekly and it will change you in the gentlest way. I have a NO system, but so do many people around the country and the world. The purpose is transformation, and the experience of a session is heavenly!

    • Christine Kane

      Cool Lisa – and yes, I love this modality too. neurofeedback has been huge for me too. (and i certainly hope you didn’t read this post as a directive that people should go do silent retreats! not at all the intention!)

  • Joyce

    I am so craving some silence!! Just curious what do you spend the day doing? Are you unplugged? Do you read a lot?? I usually try to take silent time when I can especially while driving or if I am alone in my house a week sounds like it may be hard to do.

    • Christine Kane

      Joyce – No reading or anything like that. it truly is meant to be a deep profound level of silence – and reading is “input.” It’s a way to distract. Depending on who you learn from or how you consider this approach,the silence is an access point – not simply for focus or productivity – but for accessing what’s real, what’s true, what’s essential without all the mind chatter and random identities we construct. That may sound esoteric – and that’s because, at least for me, the direct experience of these days is the teacher, not the ways I can try to describe it! It’s not for everyone, I’m aware. But I love the clarity and awareness it brings.

  • Jackie Van Dusen

    Hey Christine, nice story. I haven’t done seven day Retreats but I have offered and organized weekend silent retreats. What I find is that at the designated time at the end of the weekend when we are allowed to speak again, no one wants to be the first to break the silence. It’s actually stinging to the ears to hear a voice. But once they start speaking you can’t stop them because they’ve gained so much insight about themselves and the woodlands and nature that they have been sitting in for two or three days. It’s really a remarkable experience and one we should all try on a yearly if not more often basis. It’s excellent for our mental emotional health and definitely connects us to our spirituality whatever that may be for each of us individually.

  • michaela

    Having been a participant in silent retreats for many years and fighting the never ending chaos of input and exhausting self talk at this stage of personal time line events, I’ve found your email today as a healing balm, a warm fuzzy blanket, a cashmere robe to wrap myself in and remember….remember how to “be” , just be ….with my tea in my hands my cat in my lap gazing through the window watching a bird gathering soft padding for it’s nest as the breeze uncovers green spikes of life rising up from the dried leaf packed ground. To be, to breathe and follow the gentle rhythm of silence.
    thank you christine

  • Andrea

    I am lucky to have a little cabin in the woods. It is modest and sweet and quiet in the best ways. When I first started coming here (8-10 times per year, starting in my 40th year, 7 years ago) I would have to sleep with ear plugs in because coming from Chicago the quiet felt too loud and I couldn’t sleep. I even had to take sleep aids to drown out the quiet! But, soon I settled into the silence and now I crave it. The stove has a little tick and I can hear the second hand of the plastic clock on the wall in the next room. It is enough.

  • Paula

    A couple years ago I created a predawn routine that works for me:
    Up early (4:30 am – 5 am) before anyone would call
    No checking emails, computer, TV, music – silence
    Coffee and journal 1 page
    20 minutes reading
    15 minutes meditation
    10 minutes stretching
    After that, I’m ready for the world.
    Thanks for all you share!

  • Erica Tucci

    Christine, in the morning, I do an Oracle card reading followed by meditation. I also go out for nature walks as much as I can. Before bed, I often do another Oracle card reading to dream on. These are my times of quiet and stillness and contemplation. 😊

  • Janet Feld

    1. Your description of getting angry and judging everyone for coughing and swallowing made me laugh out loud. Not that I can relate or anything…..
    2. I meditate every morning when I get up, no matter what. Really, it’s for everyone’s safety. Some days I throw in an afternoon meditation between office work and teaching.
    Twenty minutes. I use a mantra. I can do it anywhere. No muss, no fuss.

  • Janet

    Between 5:30 and 7:15 every morning I make time to be still. No phone…. so hard!! …. no music…. just silence. Sometimes it’s hard to stay awake if the busy-ness of life has kept me up late, but I go for it everyday. Sometimes I am victorious and other times I appreciate the opportunity to try again tomorrow.

  • Nancy Darling

    This is perfect for me today. Thank you!

  • Paula Muran

    Welcome to my world!! I’ll teach you how to make peace with your thoughts. So nice to see that you tried a silent meditation retreat. It’s challenging yet so rewarding. My mind is silent all the time so I love quiet.

    I loved your comments. It can be quite unsettling at first to be still.

    Namaste!! Paula

  • Sandy Alemian

    Christine….so beautifully written. When I turned 50, I wanted to call myself a “fuck-it spiritual coach”. Ah, the names, the labels I’ve put on myself, with a greater awareness, I see that they simply served to separate myself. I don’t know what I want to call myself these days…but I’ve learned to fall in love with silence…..and space.

    This was by far, my favorite writing of yours. Thank you for sharing your heart with all….xo Sandy

  • Jeana Wellman

    After years of the tv always being on because, in a house full of growing children, noise was the norm, I purposely began not turning it on first thing in the morning. At first, silence seemed ‘way too loud’ but I have grown to enjoy it immensely and I cherish every silent moment.

  • Juliette

    Hi Christine,

    I always like reading all the other comments but very very rarely leave one. Today I felt compelled to leave you one. Your article was spot on. So much of what you write resonate with me. The space and time for silence, the business as our practice, the creativity not needing only to be an artistic practice and mostly finding the time to just be and letting go of judgement… and accepting it is ok if I use swear words from time to time (or any other “bad” habits). I try to meditate on a regular basis (try is the word as sometimes I only have time for 5min deep breathing). I also have had the chance to find a creative practice called Zentangle® (a relaxing/meditative art form) that give me that breathing, silence, relaxation, letting go time that I need. I liked it so much that I now teach it. But lately I have been struggling to carve out time to practice it for me. This is why your article was spot on. I have been wanting to do a silent retreat for years. Maybe now is the time to schedule it. Thank you so very much for posting this today!

  • Erin

    Early this year, I was lying wide awake one night, overloaded with thought after thought; stressing out about anticipating stressing out in the near future. I felt that I needed to deliberately plan SPACE in my calendar for the year, to make sure that I was making time for space – and silence. I remembered hearing about sensory deprivation tanks and thought – that’s exactly what I need: nothing. Sixty minutes of sweet, absolute nothing.

    I’ve booked floats every four weeks at a local studio, and it has quickly become what I look forward to the most at the beginning of each month. I thought it would be difficult, potentially boring, to spend that time alone with nothing but my thoughts… instead, it’s pure bliss.

  • Barrie Barton

    Great timing on the message! I just made reservations at Prama Institute in Marshall, NC for a 2 day silent retreat!

  • Gina

    Very interesting and funny read, Christine. These past couple of years, I have been on a journey to find my purpose. A little voice in my head keeps telling me to help others find their purpose. How does one do that? These last couple of months, I have been doing a great deal of reading of all kinds of “spiritual,” for lack of a better term, material from the practical to the far out. I am doing my work. I am finding that I treasure more and more quietude. I have a job that pays the bills and keeps me afloat until my Reiki business builds enough to support me. But there are days, like today, when I come home and all I want to do is be quiet. I want to chuck the cell phone, but I can’t because it is my only communication device, and I have to be able to be reached by my family. It doesn’t ring often, but occasionally it does. I take time both morning and night to find time to meditate. After I do that, at night, I listen to something from Tom Kenyon on Youtube. Sometimes it is another person, but always working from the subconscious.

    I actually like the idea of a silent retreat, not necessarily seven days, but perhaps a weekend. When I am able to find such an opportunity, I will probably be like you for a bit and every little cough or sneeze or throat clearing will annoy me. I will want to find the “zone” and stay there for the duration. Thanks for sharing.

  • christine pay

    A beautiful reminder, thank you! I had been doing so well after your seminar in March to not immediately look at my phone first thing in the morning and then I fell out of practice. Thank you for reminding me to let go of the input and just let my mind take a rest. I always feel so much better and more creative when I do

  • Ellen

    Christine, love how you write. Very engaging, funny, to the point and true. Love the concept of space but have yet to find it.

  • Roxanne

    Thank you, Christine…from the bottom of my heart. I loved this post. Best wishes, Roxanne

  • Debbie

    Great article Christine!

    I travel quite a bit…cross-country road trips as well as domestic and international air travel. I use that time for silence, space and doing nothing. No podcasts, no movies and I even skip listening to music. I cannot sleep on planes, which further keeps me from drifting to sleep – which CAN be another way to avoid the lack of stimulation and simply being.

    My schedule is easing up these days, so I will be mindful of your article here as I also include space in my every day.

  • Debra

    My silent space is called “fishing”. Of course, don’t bait the hook, you don’t want to catch anything!

  • Juliana Joie Capshew

    You’ve inspired me so much with your morning meditation (as you mentioned in the retreat), and I’ve been trying it on as a way to start my day. The silence reminds me of our interconnection and connects me to what really matters: in my case, love and service.

    May our businesses be our practices. Amen!

  • Rachel

    Just heading off for a 5-day retreat. Right NOW. Yippee! Fun that this is one of my last interactions. 💜

  • Lynn Spiro

    A silent retreat…. mmmm. I’ve always wanted to go to one but never had the courage to be honest. And I LIKE silence! 😊

    We all fill our lives with sound and clutter. Hard not to but I make it a priority to consciously create a variety of quiet spaces within my world. It’s essential to my pschy’s well being.

    My day ALWAYS begins in silence as I go about my daily morning routine. And I start the movement of my day on my porch which has floor to ceiling screens that makes you feel you’re outside. Since I live on the coast of NC, weather is conducive to being in Mother Nature more often than not.

    My company is all the sounds of Mother Nature which I gladly embrace. On my home days writing is my preferred activity but sometimes it’s just contemplating.

    On my appt days I always begin with some silence to center me.
    I end my days either in meditation on the porch (brings such depth to my meditation being in the dark wit nature) or, again, in quiet contemplation or writing in my gratitude journal.

    It took a very long time to cultivate this silence practice. But once I did, rarely do I deviate from it. The only thing that will change is the location or length of time.

    Thank you for reminding me a silent retreat might be a good idea! 👏👏😊💕✨🙏

  • Rudy Rodriguez

    I can so identify with your story. I had a very similar experience when I attended my first 7-day silent retreat several years ago. I can vividly recall my dis-ease, my impatience from attachment to falling into a meditative state (not that I even knew what that was), and frustration that I wasn’t getting it… right away. I recall sitting in the dining hall eating in silence and wondering what I was supposed to be doing while eating in silence. Across the table I noticed a retreatant eating, bouncing his head rhythmically as if he was hearing music in his head. I knew enough to understand that that was not eating in silence. I think two additional challenges in this first silent retreat. First, we were asked to not a journal, write or read during our free time. Our retreat leader explained that doing so would remove you from BEing present in the moment vs. writing about what has already occurred. Secondly, we were invited to sit quietly and ‘simply’ notice any sensations (such as the endless chatter in my head… or my leg feeling like it was going to fall off from the lack of circulation… or the incessant tickle on my nose) without moving or touching during the 30-45 meditation. I too remember my delight on the fourth day of the gently letting go and the incredible experience of deep meditation. This was and has continued to be a life-changing experience for me.

  • Liz

    I meditate and struggle with quieting my mind, I know that silence is a great therapeutic tool for my practice and I endeavor to build that muscle, but the most validating thing for me in this article is that you still say “fuck” occasionally. Thank you Christine, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  • Nancy

    I had found “embracing silence” a tad stressful until I had the “duh” moment after discovering there are different types of silence/meditation. What?! You mean I don’t have to sit in a cramp-inducing lotus position on a fair trade yoga mat, have Tibetan monks chanting, incense wafting, and organic green tea steeping. Nope. (I went to Warren Wilson – I feel ya.)

    Yes, you can sit, but you can also stand, walk, or lay down and meditate! Yay! I was so happy to find standing meditation because physically it doesn’t hurt, It’s awesome. (I prefer not to lay down because I will fall asleep – same reason why I get embarrassed in yoga class. That’s another blog in and of itself.) Too, I found using standing meditation help me bridge the me-time with biz-time because we have to stand throughout our day so the association wasn’t that far apart….work smart not hard people.

    Embrace the unplugginess! Go to the Med! (Meditation, that is – wacka wacka)

  • Radell

    Christine – I love that you attended a silent retreat and are now sharing what you learned. Thank you!

    When you shared that you learned to “use your business as your practice” holy sh&* – mind blowing!! I LOVE THIS!! Yes! This is it!

    Also, the amount of incoming information, comparing and analyzing the brain does is trapping us to think that we have to be like everyone else we see — this is exhausting and not fun at all.

    Silence actually welcomes back the authentic self.

    Thank you for sharing your insights.

    BTW will you share where you attended the retreat? I would love to attend one for myself.

    Thank you
    XO
    R

  • Marsha Stopa

    Thanks for this, Christine. Your writing just keeps getting better.

    Space? I stare out at the mountains and remind myself, “Give it space.” It’s become my mantra.

    When I can remember to do that it takes the edge off and allows me to step back, and let people and situations be who and what they are at the moment, instead of an intentional annoyance in my face.

    With enough space my seething goes away. And I stop beating myself up for “knowing better.” I remember I’m human.

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