Zen Meditation Silence

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com Dani Batz’s photostream

I’ve just returned from my 3rd retreat.

When I first started going, people kept asking me “Why?”The question was usually accompanied by a concerned expression or a caring touch. “What was happening with my life?” “What was getting too much for me to bear that I needed to check out? To re-arm and recuperate?”

I had to re-assure everyone I was fine, I wasn’t re-treating from anything. It was more a call from somewhere inside me to shut out the noises of the world so I could HEAR what myself, my true authentic voice … perhaps the voice of something larger.

Where to go?

Truc Lam monastery zen

Photo Credit:

My first retreat was at the Truc Lam Monastery in Dalat Vietnam , long on  monastic discipline, short on creature comforts.

My second and third retreats have been at the 7 Fountains Jesuit Spirituality Centre in Chiang Mai Thailand, a homely haven of silence and light with private baths, air-conditioning and three simply delicious meals a day.

In both locations there was lots of silence. Enough for me to hear the music of the spheres, choirs of angels, infinity in a symphoney.

They are very different and I find I resonate with 7 Fountains more.  But who knows, perhaps the monastic discipline of Truc Lam will call to me again.

Now that I’m a bit of a “regular” the question’s become “What?”
– “What happens there where I do nothing and say nothing all day?”
– “What insights surface from all that silence?”What happens?

Morning, evening, night

On the face of it, there isn’t much “What” to report. Seven Fountains Chiangmai zen meditation jesuits moanstery

My schedule at 7 Fountains was a slow wake-up in the cool Chiang Mai morning, followed by a walk under giant rain-trees to breakfast.  After breakfast, I walked the labyrinth, a wonderful left-turn, right-turn, curving, roundabouting, re-tracking one hour where my logical brain-mutterings were totally disarmed. Quietened, I would then spend the next two hours in reflection and meditation up on a bamboo patio looking into trees or in one of 7 Fountains wooden chapels meditating.Just before lunch, there would be a 45 minute check-in with my director, to make sure I was still strongly grounded in reality and hadn’t meditated myself all the way out into 7th Heaven and then lunch!

Afternoons I spent editing my novel (finally finished after 7 revisions) and then in the evening to a prayer service, dinner, and another contemplative session.

Yes friends… On the surface I can only report boring minutes, silent hours, ticking away into six uneventful days. BUT …

What surfaces? Just a smooth face, un-tensed shoulders, a few words, a poem


Hollows the reed
The wind’s song

Tunes the heartstrings
The story

Readies the self
The embrace

  1. christhy77 says:

    Thanks for sharing. Have always wanted to go on a silent retreat. But with young kids at home. Is always tough. Now that my kids are much older. I shall. Thanks for sharing those places.

    • oddznns says:

      You might like 7 Fountains. They have couple rooms too. A pastor and his wife were there for a 30 day sabbatical after which he led a group called Silent Stones.

  2. Naomi says:

    So thankful to have found you and your lovely voice! Adding you to my reader now to stay up to date ….

  3. Just found you today, and am very glad. My heart calls me to the silence of the wilderness, and if I don’t listen, and spend the time not just alone but in the silence, I am unhappy, uncomfortable, and ineffective.

  4. Mary says:

    I just found your poem on silence and read of the retreats. I am drawn
    to learn the practice of silence. Thank you,

    • Audrey Chin says:

      Silence is wonderful. Do you have a group to learn the practice with? Books are great but it’s best to have someone go along with us on the journey so we don’t get lost.

  5. Chris says:

    How wonderful to read. I’ve done some retreats myself and I’m going to Vietnam soon. Do you have any contact details for the monastery near Da Lat?

    • Audrey Chin says:

      Hi Chris
      Thanks for dropping by.
      My sister in law, who is a Buddhist nun, arranged the retreat for me and it was at the women’s section. I actually didn’t meet anyone who spoke English.
      You might want to visit the English Language site which is based in Canada and ask them if there’s a way you can go to meditate there with English language arrangements. The site is http://www.truclam.ca.
      Here’s some information about the founder – http://www.truclamvietzen.net/MasterTTT.htm

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