Into the Great Silence

What would a documentary film about silence look like? Well in 2005 Philip Gröning created the film ‘Die Grosse Stille’ or ‘Into the Great Silence’ examining the silent life of a Carthusian Monastic Order in France.  Twenty years in the conceiving and making, the film was so wonderful, so beautiful … that it picked up many documentary awards including the 2006 Sundance Festival World Documentary Award.  

A film about silence.  Winning awards.

For these past three weeks we’ve been encouraging people to try and spend 5 minutes in silence a day.  For myself I hoped I’d find this not too great a challenge – especially as I’d set it – but to be honest it’s been a struggle most days to properly stop.  I wonder if you’ve found that.

My life is still jammed full of stuff.  All the stuff is good and valuable but it’s jammed in – I feel like I need to find some breathing room in amongst all my commitments.  This is where silence has come in for me.

Like the Brothers at the Grande Chartreuse monastery I have found a deep beauty in these small times of silence. It’s hard to describe what happens each time and on many occasions the experience is different.  However what seems common is that I’m becoming more and more moved emotionally as I stop.

“The silence captured in this documentary — a meditative look at life in the Carthusian monastery of the Grande Chartreuse in the French Alps — may be the most eloquent you’ll ever hear. ” Walter Addiego (San Fransisco Chronicle)

Last week I took my five minutes of silence in a coffee shop in Sheffield.  Marmadukes in Norfolk Row has become a base for me these first few weeks in a new city.

As I sat in silence looking out of the window I began to notice a bird who was patiently collecting scraps from the pavement.  I had spent my day trying to generate enquiries for Space to Breathe and working on imaginative ideas for the future.  But there in that silence I watched an ordinary bird going on with it’s daily life, patiently and in serenity.  I was moved to tears.  By a bird.

Silence has given me a fresh gift of sight.  Things around me are amplified.  They speak to my soul.  I’m understanding myself more and even appreciating myself more – faults and all.

I know this daily practice of silence is going to stay with me and is going to affect all I do – whether content strategy on the web, my teaching roles or the way I live life and do family.

If you’ve not had a go at this yet I dare you to try.  I think it may bring out beauty in your world too.

The film is produced by Zeitgeist Films and is currently available to buy on DVD and Blue Ray formats.  It is also available on most online platforms.

Trailer for Into the Great Silence


Posted in Blog, Silent Challenge, Thinking and tagged .

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