The Neuroscience Of Meditation, And The Virtues Of Shutting Up

What 10 days of silence can do for your brain.

It was 5:30 in the morning on my third day of silent meditation when I noticed something in me take a sharp turn left.

I was groggy, frustrated by my inability to sit still and hungry for the breakfast that was still an hour off. I got up from the spot on the floor of my bedroom where I’d been attempting to meditate and walked outside, to the new-growth woods behind the residential quarters at the Vipassana Meditation Center in Shelburne, Massachusetts. It was springtime, and the outdoors seemed spring-loaded with potential: The buds on the trees were sharp little things, and hundreds of fuzzy fiddleheads dotted the forest floor, curled snug.