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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"The Joy of Quiet" and the Joy of Loud Ecstatic Dance Music--Yin and Yang

While I love the high-energy, hard-driving, loud music and beat in the dance clubs, I also love the hour of silent meditation I do with a group three days a week.  I do this at Starr Mill in Middletown, where the sound of the old mill waterfall is a constant background aural presence.  We meditate at the generous invitation of Bob Vinci, who is It's all about the balance of Yin and Yang.  The meditation is as inward an experience as the dance is an outward one.

Below is a link to a wonderful opinion piece in the NY Times  by a writer named Pico Iyer on 1-1-12 called "The Joy of Quiet." As he wisely notes, we are so inundated with New information, by email, text, Facebook, and other media that we risk being unable to distinguish between what is New and what is Essential. What is Essential, he suggests, can only be discerned in the Silent Recesses of our Inner Lives.

I mostly agree with Mr. Iyer, but in my experience there is a certain Essential quality of life which can only be reached, and savored, in the Noisy Atmosphere of a dance club, in the presence of the gods of the wild, crazy, unbridled energy of Youth.

I'm curious about your reflections about this issue.

Mr. Iyer's "The Joy of Quiet" can be found at this link:

For those of  you who, like I, have found it hard to meditate alone, here's an excerpt from Bob Vinci's website, about the experience of meditating at Starr Mill in Middletown.  You are welcome to participate.  There is no charge.

Bob Vinci, The Meditation Man

Bob Vinci

The Meditation Man

Bob Vinci has studied meditation in its many forms for over 30 years. He draws on that vast experience to teach a technique that is deceptively simple, but profound in its impact.
Just one session of his Meditation Man Technique can bring relaxation and a sense of peace and physical well-being, while regular practice multiplies the benefits.

Meditation by the Waterfalls at Star Mills

Once or twice a week they gather, individuals driving in from various parts of the state, each with his or her own needs, looking for a safe, comfortable place to meditate. They include men and women of various ages, sometimes including teens. Cars are parked at the rear of the mills and folks settle down in comfortable chairs in front of windows looking out on the Star Mills falls. There is a short period wherein each member reacquaints with others in lively conversation. With the window open the sound of tumbling water provides a relaxing background for social meditation.
"The Meditation Man," Bob Vinci meets them at the door and greets each individual who he has known for various lengths of time. Star Mills, by the waterfalls, is a comfortable world, a kind and gentle place that offers each of the meditators friendship and companionship. Bob knows each of them, their histories and personal stories and treats each of them as if they were members of his family, which indeed, in a sense, they are.


  1. Amen, Bob.

    I agree that we need to carve out quiet and stillness in our lives, particularly in light of our busy technocentric culture.

    St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (a/k/a the Jesuits) recognized this in the 16th century when he formulated his Spiritual Exercises, a 30 day program of meditations, prayers and contemplative practices.

    I have been on a number of abbreviated 8 day Directed Retreats based on St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises, and they were very profound experiences. It took several days for me to "turn off" my internal dialogue and find complete stillness. And that stillness made it easier for me to feel God's presence in my life.

    As it says in the Bible, God was not in the wind, or an earthquake, or a fire, but rather in “a still small voice”. (1 Kings 19:11-13).

    I believe that quiet and stillness are counter-cultural.

    As Max Ehrmann wrote in his "Desiderata" in 1927, "Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence...."

    And as Thoreau wrote in his conclusion to "Walden":

    "If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away."

    I join you, Bob, in marching to the beat of our own drummer as we seek an oasis of quiet in our often noisy and busy lives....



  2. Dear John,
    It probably would surprise people to learn that you and I want and even need silent spaces in our normally loud lives. When we were out at social functions when we practiced law together, both of us loved to talk, argue, dispute.
    But, as you point out, the reality is, even The Loud among us, like you and I, enjoy times of quiet, stillness, unmoving. All those many years we practiced law together, I never learned that you went on silent retreats. That goes to show how little we actually know about the people we love and spend a lot of time with. At some level we are all mysteries, to each other and even to ourselves. That was one of the great insights of which Sigmund Freud reminded the world.
    I like your reminder that God is often described, metaphorically, as a "still small voice." When I last was in Newport, on the Cliffwalk, I looked out over the ocean water below the cliffs and noticed the ripple on the surface of the sea caused by the current of the morning wind. I thought to myself, that's the Bible calls "the spirit of God across the Face of the Deep."
    In the movie version of "Lawrence of Arabia," there is that wonderful scene when Peter O'Toole is driving a camel across the desert, all alone. Suddenly, a strong wind comes up and stirs the desert sand into a vertical column. The camera pans into O'Toole's magnificent blue eyes and he exclaims, excitedly, "The Pillar of Fire." He filters his experience of that natural phenomena through his knowledge of the Old Testament (Jewish bible). Exodus 13:21 says "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night."
    Without silence, stillness, and alone-ness Sir Lawrence may not have seen what was before his eyes with the same intensity, the same sense of magic, or the same sense of the poetic and mysterious aspect of the natural world.
    Thank you very much for your interesting Comment.
    All best,

    Bob Dutcher

  3. Bob-

    Re your comment above:

    I believe we not only enjoy times of quiet, stillness, and unmoving;

    but that we actually NEED those times!

    Best wishes-