A loud and clear bell rang through the sounds of awe and swelled into the wall of the room calling attention to the commanding sound. However, this sound didn’t demand that we bring attention to it, but rather that we bring attention to ourselves and the space we were occupying, in physical space, time, and relationships. With one stroke of the singing bowl, the sound demanded that you focus on centering your reality and as the ring faded it rocked you into a trance of internality that stuck in your head even as it faded into silence.

Unfortunately, I missed the first few days of the Workshop, but the visit to Chùa Tường Vân was a great way to kickstart the term and my blog post. When Tham began the meeting with the singing bowl, I was fascinated by how such a brief movement, the striking of the bowl, could cause such intense feelings of introspective thought and peace and as I was reflecting on the use of noise in meditation, I was wondering if there was anything in my life that mimicked the singing bowl and if I had formed either a positive or detrimental habitual energy towards it.

The first thing that sprung into my mind was the use of music. Often I have music playing, whether while walking on the paths of campus, doing homework, or traveling in a car, but when I don’t have my headphones I experience a strong sense of longing and feel like I can’t function without them. For me, music sits at the intersection of helpful and detrimental. I love listening to music, it helps me focus, puts me in a generally better mood, and exposes me to different cultures. My current favorites have been Ethiopian jazz and 80’s Latin-pop.

At the same time, I also acknowledge that it hinders my ability to just sit in silence and notice things. With my headphones on I lose the ability of internality and reflection. I cannot deeply inspect what happened in my day or the new sparks I explored with people or in the classroom. I am less likely to stop and talk to an acquaintance on the path and I lose focus on what is going around me. I lose the ability to hear birds chirping or even just being nosy and eavesdropping on others’ conversations. I can’t just be bored and comfortable in silence. While I really enjoy listening to music and will continue to do so, I think it is important that I start to include moments of intentional silence into my day.

I think that in the same way, the ringing of a singing bowl can trigger moments of reflection, so can pure silence. I am wondering if there is something in my head or something that I could physically do that would automatically trigger internal silence in random parts of my day.



Each spring term, The Workshop welcomes approximately 20 seniors to this interdisciplinary, project-based course. With an eye toward reimagining what school can be, The Workshop is the senior’s only academic commitment for the entire term. Instead of splitting their time and attention into units of distinct courses and fields of study, they work closely with peers, faculty, and community and global partners on a series of linked, interdisciplinary projects that revolve around a single theme. Within the theme Experiments in Education, students explore areas of personal interest.

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