3 July 2024

During Small Charity Week 2024, we launched our first ever community fundraiser: a seven-day sponsored silence & digital detox. In this blog, challengers Joanne, Nat & Kevin share what they gained from the experience. 

Silence for Seven is a week-long challenge to enable seven young adults in hardship to access life-changing mindfulness training through our bursary scheme. The Breathworks community were invited to submit, and collect sponsorship for, their own unique challenge. The one rule was that challengers needed to commit to verbal and digital silence, at least once a day, for seven consecutive days. 

Together, we have raised enough money to fund six bursary places on our 8-week courses. Could you help us reach our collective target and enable that final person in need to access the tools to better manage their physical and mental health? 

Donate Here

We saw a range of creative challenges. Some shook up their usual meditation practice, exploring new methods to stay present without guidance. Others listened more deeply and found alternative ways to meaningfully connect, without speaking. Many challengers had previously received a bursary place on a Mindfulness for Health or Mindfulness for Stress course themselves, and valued this opportunity to give back. 

One thing was clear - people benefitted from this silent practice, with many intending to bring more silence into their daily routines. We invited three challengers, Joanne, Nat & Kevin to share their experiences:

"I didn't really miss my phone" - Joanne's Challenge

My Silence for Seven challenge was a daily commitment to: 

  • Two 20-minute periods of silent meditation
  • 30 minutes of sitting in nature
  • 30 minutes of mindful drawing per day—no TV, music, phone, or tablet.

I thought this would be hard as I have never done a silent retreat and only recently started meditating in silence after taking the Going Deeper course. I usually use guided meditations and have the TV or music on as a distraction.

I found the whole experience amazing. The natural world is very loud! Each experience was different, a symphony of sound both natural and man-made. The birdsong was a lovely accompaniment to meditation. The mindful drawing really made me pay attention to what I was drawing and released the need for perfectionism. I even tried some neurographic art.

Instead of these activities being difficult and challenging, I looked forward to my moments of silence. I didn’t really miss my phone, music, or TV and realised I had been using them as a distraction from my pain condition. The silence and sitting in nature were rejuvenating and refreshing. I felt energised after my activities.

It felt great to give back to Breathworks, as they have helped me so much. I will continue with all of these activities going forward, as I really felt the benefits. I have to confess that the good weather helped! Thank you to everyone at Breathworks for creating the challenge. I look forward to participating again next year.

Click Here to Sponsor Joanne

560 minutes of silent meditation, absorbing nature & drawing.

"It was like starting over" - Kevin's Challenge

For my Silence for Seven challenge, I committed to verbal, digital, and analogue silence for 12 waking hours per day, for seven days. So, no phone, computer, radio, TV, reading, writing, or music within my control, for 84 hours across the week.

Was it challenging? Yes. Was it difficult? Considering I live alone, I'm retired, and my time is my own, it just took a bit of organisation and determination. The hardest part was breaking the habit of constant verbal 'checking' with myself: "do this" - "do that" - "how do I do that?". It took a few days to calm this flow and learn to anticipate the next thought, much like starting out in mindfulness and learning to handle distracting thoughts.

After a couple of days, I relaxed into the experience and began to see silence as a friend. I felt I had more clarity of thought, like cleaning a whiteboard and starting over.

Pictured above: Original watercolour pencil artwork by Kevin B, inspired by his week in silence

The high points of the week were two trips on my beloved e-trike to local beauty spots, a nature reserve, and the Trent embankment. The weather was glorious, and the few people I encountered seemed relaxed and soothed by the sunshine. I sat quietly by the water, in the sunshine, eyes closed, and breathed. Bliss.

The last couple of hours each day were tough. I found myself 'surfing the urge' to check email, but strangely enough, I felt some reluctance to do so when it became legitimate.

All in all, it was a good experience. I increased my meditation practice and Tai Chi/Chi Gong routines. I found myself with so much time that I had to remind myself to stop and rest occasionally. I plan to continue this, perhaps one or two dedicated days per week. I can see the benefits would be worthwhile.

I took up this challenge to give back to Breathworks for their past kindness. I received two bursaries for courses I couldn't have joined otherwise, and the kindness and encouragement from the trainers were invaluable. Helping others access life-changing courses with Breathworks brings me joy and satisfaction.

Love to all, Kevin

Click Here to Sponsor Kevin

84 Hours of verbal, digital & analogue silence

"My Meditation Practice Has Come a Long Way" - Nat's Challenge

My Silence For Seven challenge was to do a one-hour meditation, record it, and upload it to my YouTube channel. I thought it would be a good way to get more people involved and aware of the fundraiser and the Breathworks charity.

At first, I thought I'd taken on too much, but as we got halfway through the week, things began to change. Getting up in silence and continuing my day in silence became part of my routine without any effort. I started to enjoy less music, shows, social media, and even video games. My eating habits changed too, becoming more mindful and simple.

Now, as I'm writing this, I'm on Day 9 and have extended my 7-day challenge to 31 days. I'll keep my silence throughout the day and see how long I can go before listening to music again or playing video games.

My meditation practice has come a long way. Earlier this year, I challenged myself with two sessions over an hour each in a day. This fundraiser has helped me stay consistent and deepen my practice. Over these 9 days, I've also gone deeper into my studies of Buddhism, making time for silent contemplation and additional meditation sessions.

Click Here to Sponsor Nat

31 Hours of Silent Meditation, Recorded & Shared on YouTube

The Breathworks Team are full of gratitude to every single person who took part, whether that was submitting their own silent challenge, or donating to others' fundraising pages.

Inspired to take part? There's still time to run your own Silence for Seven challenge, or donate towards the collective effort. The final donation count will be 9am Wednesday 24th July 2024