The Chinmaya Inspiration Yatra VIII in Silence was held from December 16th through December 25th 2016. Under the guidance of Acharya Vivekji, 18 seekers from across the country gathered in Pittsburgh for an inward journey in solitude to understand the Self. For these 10 days, Yatris were instructed not to speak to others or bring any notebooks or reading material. Upon arriving at the retreat center, all Yatris turned in their valuables (phones, electronics, car keys, etc) to Vivekji. They were also encouraged to slow down while performing physical activities such as walking and eating to help slow down thoughts in the mind.
For the first 7 days, the Yatris experienced silence in a controlled environment. Each day the first 90-minute contemplation sessions began at 6:00AM. Throughout the day there were 3 more contemplation sessions, interspersed with 90-minute individual reflections sessions and simple meals where Yatris each ate at individual tables. For the last 3 days of the Yatra, the Yatris traveled to Cleveland to remain in silence in an uncontrolled environment. During this time the Yatris attended public satsangs, went shopping at a large mall on Christmas Eve, and visited the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland all in silence.
On the final night of the Yatra, silence concluded and the Yatris shared both the challenges and peace they experienced over the past 10 days of solitude. Acharya Vivekji also shared insight on how they can continue to sustain this inner silence independent of the external context.