Anne LeClaire is the author of eight novels and a former reporter, radio news broadcaster, and newspaper columnist whose work has appeared in publications such as Redbook, the Boston Globe, and the New York Times. In this beautifully written book, she celebrates the ample benefits of a practice of total silence on the first and third Mondays of each month. Over a 17-year period, she has explored the many different dimensions of silence in community and in solitude.
Of course, in today's society the yearning to be silent and to be alone is ignored by many people who are accustomed to a constant background of noise and the sensory overstimulation brought on by a panoply of electronic devices that keep us informed about what’s happening in our world. The spiritual explorer J. Krishnamurti said years ago: "You try being alone, without any form of distraction, and see how quickly you want to get away from yourself and forget what you are." Self-exploration is a scary thing, one many avoid through constant and relentless input via the Web and other technologies.
LeClaire finds in silence "a place of restoration and reflection, where I would birth creativity, stretch personal boundaries, and expand awareness. Like others who have traveled the path of stillness I would journey through loneliness to discover unity, through isolation to know connection, through anxiety to find acceptance and surrender." It takes her husband, family, and friends a while to get used to her Monday silences but they come to appreciate the positive changes they bring into her life.
LeClaire writes about the benefits of this spiritual practice: it assists her in being present in whatever activity she has undertaken; it exercises her capacity for truly listening to herself, others, and the world around her; it provides the perfect milieu for creativity; it becomes a versatile spiritual teacher, opening up fresh pathways of self-knowledge; it offers training of the mind is surrendering the ego's need to be right; it enables her to discern the importance of speech; and it serves as a catalyst for connecting with others in a deeper way. LeClaire also has some important things to say about how silence can be used as a weapon in personal relationships and how it can disempower individuals when they are silenced.