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Kathryn Smith

The Power of Shutting Up and Sitting in Silence

Illustration by Missy Chimovitz

Kathryn Smith | Longreads | October 2018 | 14 minutes (3,450 words)

I spent New Year’s in a hot pink temple shaped like a lotus flower, surrounded by 100 other people with their eyes closed and their legs crossed like pretzels. I had taken a vow of silence and not spoken to another human in three days. It was so quiet that I could hear the twinkly lights on the ceiling humming.

I’m a mid-30s white woman with a cat, a small apartment, and a mid-level office job. I don’t meditate, really. I vociferously hate chanting. I don’t know what I think about swamis in long orange robes who believe energy runs through everything and rocks have feelings — I have a 401K and a thoroughly sensible life.

But I went to an ashram because I thought it might fix something, and I think it kind of did.
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