Silence or not during group meditation?

Having a Zen background (I lived for a few years at Kanzeon Zen Center in Salt Like City), I am used to silence during the sitting periods. If someone makes repeated sounds, it wouldn’t be unusual for the monitor – the senior monk monitoring the Zendo – to shout “sit still!!!”.

Silence allows for easier centering, inner silence, and focus, at least in my experience. And having to sit still also requires me to find a way to allow and give space to my own restlessness and discomfort instead of distracting myself through sounds or movement. That’s perhaps the greatest benefit and one of the reasons the silence-norm is in place.

When I first took a Vortex Healing class, I was surprised by the sound level. People seemed to move around and make quite a bit of sound (breathing, sighing, coughing, pulling in snot, moving, opening bottles, even reading through notebooks!) during the transmissions or meditations. It’s distracting, but the benefit is that I get to see my own reactivity to it, and it triggers some emotional issues (rooted in trauma), so I can then work on and clear those. In fact, due to my own discomfort from the noise level in the group, I am motivated to work on and clear those issues. I want to get a good portion done before next class…..!

So there are benefits to each approach. I also guess Vortex Healing has more of an Indian and Hinduism connection with it’s higher tolerance for noise (and chaos!), so that’s why they do it differently.


Based on a comment I made in the VH Facebook group where someone posted on this topic.

Having a Zen background where they strongly encourage no sounds at all, I was quite surprised by the noise level during the Vortex class transmissions / meditations

The complete silence makes centering and inner silence easier (at least in my experience), but the sounds invite me to see my reactions and any emotional issues behind it. So there is some benefit to each, although I have to admit I prefer the silence.

There is also something about having to sit still instead of taking restlessness and discomfort out in movement and sounds. When I have to sit in silence, I have to find a way to allow and give space to the restlessness and discomfort and that seems quite valuable. That’s lost if I have the option of distracting myself through making sounds or moving.

I guess VH has more of an Indian connection than a Zen connection, so there is a cultural difference there.


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