I Ate 20 Meals In Complete Silence & Realized Chitchat Is The Worst

Illustrated by Ivy Liu.
As some of you may know, I recently returned from a silent retreat. Seven days of no talking, no reading, no technology, no eye contact, and a minimum of four hours of meditation every single day. All the meals were also held in silence. That means I had 20 meals by myself, with no distractions and zero conversation.

Prior to this, I had eaten alone (who hasn’t?), but I don’t think I ever ate alone and just ate — there was always some kind of device in my hand, or a book, or a newspaper, or a podcast playing, or a movie on TV. Going into the retreat, I didn’t think that eating in silence for a week would foster any insights into myself. I thought I’d just eat and go for a walk, or go to the next meditation session, or whatever. But, boy, was I wrong. From the very first meal in silence until the last, many realizations came cascading in.