While my husband Terry was in Australia, I was at Kripalu for the weekend. There were yoga classes, meditations, a wild noon dance, an evening concert, and fresh food of a larger variety than we usually eat. The view of a constantly mutating lake and folds of distant mountains was magnificent.
What I loved most was the silence. 10:00pm to 5:00 am silent. Even the elevators. Breakfasts were silent, and for lunch and dinner there was a silent dining room, where I ate. Walking the halls, conversation was sparse; even smiles were optional – good will was stipulated.
Thought waves stopped crashing. Without radio and television and conversation, I could, without trying, get underneath my projects and plans, just gently sinking beneath the bustle.
There was a down side though. When words came out, they came out in torrents. “Could I ask you please to press 3 please?” on the elevator. Or “I’d like to invite your back to stretch up up up.” A torrent of excess verbiage! This padding of politeness served not to soften interactions, but to distance one person from another. It was as if the speaker was afraid to offend, afraid of the reaction. Some people were like samurais who disarm before entering the room.
My purpose was not to distance myself but to lessen my contact with others. I was able to remove some of the duties of daily life (and conversation is first among these) from my day.
Silence is powerful, and the excess of politeness makes this power mushy. Instead of managing the power, it was hidden behind folds of politeness.
Too much politeness is a small price to pay for such bliss.