I ditched noisy modern living for 24 hours of quiet time – here’s what I learnt

Monica Cafferky

Enjoying some silence (Image: Monica Cafferky)

Writer Monica Cafferky, 54, lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

Although there are only three in our house, myself, my partner John, plus our dog Monkey, I live in a world of noise. Deliveries, mobiles, the radio – and that’s just inside.

I long for silence, but with a busy life I don’t have the time to go on a retreat. So when I discovered the growing trend for silent retreats at home, I was intrigued.

Talking to Sarah Bladen, I learnt that silence is more than the absence of noise. “It’s a gateway to profound insights,” she told me. 

Connecting to silence reduces stress levels, she continued, increasing self-awareness and enhancing emotional balance. 

It sounded like a win-win. So I decided to create my own 24 hour silent retreat at home. 

On my chosen morning, John left the house for work before I woke up at 7am. I dressed without listening to the news, which felt odd. 

During our countryside walk, I didn’t chatter as usual to Monkey and instead spent time taking in the beautiful scenery.

Back home, at 8.30am, I did a yoga practice without music. I could hear my breath and felt more relaxed than normal after a session.

Then, instead of watching the news on my iPad whilst eating breakfast, I ate my toast slowly and savoured every bite. 

For a while, I began to really enjoy the quiet, and sitting with Monkey was heaven, although she did keep cocking her head as if waiting for me to speak.

But as 10am rolled around, I was feeling adrift from the world and itching to call a friend. I resisted, decamping instead upstairs to prepare my retreat space in the spare bedroom, lighting a candle and gathering a notebook and books. Sinking into the bed, I realised the last time I did nothing was aeons ago.

When I began to wonder, “Should I be checking my emails?” I fought the urge and picked up I Am, I Am I Am by Maggie O’Farrell to read.  

The memoir made me recall my own near-death experience – I fell into a deep pond aged four and nearly drowned. Suddenly, I felt lucky and grateful to be alive.

I have a safe home, a wonderful dog and partner, and the space for silence. Sarah mentioned I might experience these moments of bliss. The gratitude wave was unexpected but welcomed.

Lunch passed with silent cooking and eating, followed by an early afternoon of more reading.  

However, by 3pm I felt stir crazy and reasoned that visiting a local art gallery wasn’t cheating. Inside the silent space, everyone spoke in hushed voices, if at all. 

There, I found myself staring at the paintings and the colours soothed me in a deep way. I was surprised – art therapy in action.

Back home, I did some calming breath work. When John returned from work, I was zonked out and, strangely, time had passed more quickly than I realised.

I had already eaten and we didn’t talk, although he mouthed, “Okay?” and I nodded. Normally, we chat about our day and it felt abnormal not to connect with him.

After a silent bath, I headed to bed whilst John watched YouTube videos downstairs. I slept deeply, the best I’d done in years.

Connecting to silence left me feeling refreshed, and peaceful. But in future, I’ll end a retreat when John comes home – my urge to chat is just too strong. 

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