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My Silent Camino - Ask me anything

Zelmont

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - Sep 2020
Hello everyone,

Over the years I've read about lots of people talking about individuals who did Silent Caminos or Caminos in "Vow of Silence" but I never found an article from a person who actually did it. So I decided to create this post since I recently finished my Silent Camino. The purpose of this thread is to give other people a place to ask their questions about Silent Camino to a person who actually did it - me. Hopefully, this will help those people who are thinking about doing a Silent Camino or who are just curious about the whole experience.

So if you have any questions - feel free to ask away!

From 2nd to 26th of September 2020 I did the Silent Camino, starting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and ending in Santiago. I was 27 when I started and I had my 28 birthday on the Camino.

I realize there are many different ways to do a Silent Camino and a Vow of Silence. Every way can bring you lot of insights. In the following section, I'll give you answers about few basic questions on how and what I actually did.


WHAT exactly did I do?
  • I walked the whole Camino from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago without saying a single word, not even when I was alone. After I arrived to Santiago, my Vow was over and I talked to rest of the pilgrims and I went to Finisterre.

HOW did I do that?
  • I had a sign on my chest and one on my backpack secured with safety pins that said: "SILENT CAMINO - I've taken the vow of Silence". In retrospective, it would be pretty useful if I actually had a Spanish translation of that message bellow it because a lot of people did not exactly know English well enough to understand it.

  • I also carried a A4 sized whiteboard and lots of markers which allowed me to communicate to a certain degree. The board fit perfectly in a space between my backpack and the metal rig so I could pull it out and safely put it back with an ease.

  • I've also used 'Mhmms', 'Hmm' and couple of more weird sounds and clicks in my everyday communication.

WHY did I do that?
  • I had an idea of going through longer period of Silence long before I had any clue what Camino is. I believe a person could learn a lot about them self, communication and the World in general from Silence. About year before my Camino a lot of people in my life randomly started to talk about Camino - so idea formed in my head - to do the Silent Camino. My Camino is not motivated by religion but by curiosity and a desire to learn from this kind of experience.

Have I ever broken the Vow?

  • During the first day of Vow, I noticed that I would kinda mumble words out loud when reading road signs and things like that - so after that I realized that I had to be more careful about it and I never repeated that mistake again.

  • On the second day of the Vow I once said 'Daaaamn' when somebody pointed my attention to a very big snail on the floor. That was the only time I know of when I broke the Vow.

  • After the first two days, my brain kinds accepted the fact that I do not want to speak and from around third day onward, I didn't really have to focus my attention not to speak - it was automatic for me.

I'll stop writing here to avoid writing a looong thread. Feel free to comment and ask any questions. I'll be more than happy to answer them.
 

Jomas

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VF many times. Monaco-Lindau '15. Assisi-Pietralcina '17. CF '18.
congratulations for this "challenge" you have won.
you say "I think a person can learn a lot about himself, about communication and about the world in general from Silence" and ok, but honestly from your story it is not clear what you have learned and how it now reflects on your daily life (post camino).
Silence is sometimes necessary to balance the soul and the spirit a little but as I practice it, it concerns an hour or so, in the days I need it (luckily there are few).
I just need to "get away" from social noises.
Sometimes it's hard just for this short time, I can't imagine how you did it.
 

Zelmont

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - Sep 2020
Thank you for the responses. :D

Alright, I'll try to summarize what I've learned through Silence. Oh, I forgot to mention that this also meant that I did not text other people with my phone as well.

Things I've learned can be divided into two categories - Communication & Personal

Communication
  • Even tho I was Silent, for the most of my Camino I was part of different groups - which was not something I expected that it would happen. While I could communicate with the whiteboard, I was 'forced' to focus on listening (Sometimes the conversations were going so fast that by the time I write something, the conversation goes to in different place and what I wrote was no longer relevant). I listened to the people I normally would and wouldn't listen to, I listened to opinions I agree and disagree on, like in normal life, but this time - I listen without the desire to tell my point of view, opinion or etc. So Silence allowed me to be more focused on the people I talked to and what they are saying instead on what I can/would say. It thought me how to be a better listener.

  • I've also learned that when you give people a moment of silence more in the conversation, instead of giving your 2 cents, that they often go deeper and open up more - which is something I really cherished.

  • Then after a while, things get deeper. You start to monitor the things you want to say in conversations and maybe more importantly - the things you do not say in conversation - and then you starts to look at your whys? Do I want to say something just to have a spotlight on me, or to say something helpful, or just to be heard, etc - which is pretty humbling experience.
Personal
  • For me, my Vow acted like an amplifier of my thoughts and emotions. Since I could do very little to shake them off, I obviously could not talk to someone to occupy my mind and similar things, I was 'forced' to deal with them. In combination with the Camino, it was quite and emotional roller coaster.

  • While there were some personal lessons I learned through Silence, large part of my 'benefits' were coming from - Acceptance - learning how to accept my self and certain things I did and didn't do.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Congratulations on your success. It sounds to me that you were faithful in truth and spirit to your vow. Well done.

I met a fellow doing a silent camino a few years ago. While words never left his mouth, between his gestures and his written words, he never shut up. In retrospect, I think he was a seriously extroverted, social creature who needed the conversation, so the benefits of stillness that can come from silence eluded him.
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
Hello everyone,

Over the years I've read about lots of people talking about individuals who did Silent Caminos or Caminos in "Vow of Silence" but I never found an article from a person who actually did it. So I decided to create this post since I recently finished my Silent Camino. The purpose of this thread is to give other people a place to ask their questions about Silent Camino to a person who actually did it - me. Hopefully, this will help those people who are thinking about doing a Silent Camino or who are just curious about the whole experience.

So if you have any questions - feel free to ask away!

From 2nd to 26th of September 2020 I did the Silent Camino, starting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and ending in Santiago. I was 27 when I started and I had my 28 birthday on the Camino.

I realize there are many different ways to do a Silent Camino and a Vow of Silence. Every way can bring you lot of insights. In the following section, I'll give you answers about few basic questions on how and what I actually did.


WHAT exactly did I do?
  • I walked the whole Camino from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago without saying a single word, not even when I was alone. After I arrived to Santiago, my Vow was over and I talked to rest of the pilgrims and I went to Finisterre.

HOW did I do that?
  • I had a sign on my chest and one on my backpack secured with safety pins that said: "SILENT CAMINO - I've taken the vow of Silence". In retrospective, it would be pretty useful if I actually had a Spanish translation of that message bellow it because a lot of people did not exactly know English well enough to understand it.

  • I also carried a A4 sized whiteboard and lots of markers which allowed me to communicate to a certain degree. The board fit perfectly in a space between my backpack and the metal rig so I could pull it out and safely put it back with an ease.

  • I've also used 'Mhmms', 'Hmm' and couple of more weird sounds and clicks in my everyday communication.

WHY did I do that?
  • I had an idea of going through longer period of Silence long before I had any clue what Camino is. I believe a person could learn a lot about them self, communication and the World in general from Silence. About year before my Camino a lot of people in my life randomly started to talk about Camino - so idea formed in my head - to do the Silent Camino. My Camino is not motivated by religion but by curiosity and a desire to learn from this kind of experience.

Have I ever broken the Vow?

  • During the first day of Vow, I noticed that I would kinda mumble words out loud when reading road signs and things like that - so after that I realized that I had to be more careful about it and I never repeated that mistake again.

  • On the second day of the Vow I once said 'Daaaamn' when somebody pointed my attention to a very big snail on the floor. That was the only time I know of when I broke the Vow.

  • After the first two days, my brain kinds accepted the fact that I do not want to speak and from around third day onward, I didn't really have to focus my attention not to speak - it was automatic for me.

I'll stop writing here to avoid writing a looong thread. Feel free to comment and ask any questions. I'll be more than happy to answer them.
Interesting, I've met and been with people making a fast of speaking. Some only did it until midday, others maintained silence for 30 or 40 days or whatever they could manage.
Being a bit of a chatterbox myself, I'd probably find it difficult, but I can see how it would be of benefit internally, spiritually, mentally. However, some of our biggest distractions from living in the moment are our "internal dialogues", or these days I suppose we could include writing comments on blogs and forums too :)
 

Martin Cole

Love being a pilgrim walker
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 French x3 Portugese x2 Primitivo x1 English x1, Muxia x1 Cancelled 2020!!
One of the biggest pleasures on the Camino (to me) is meeting all the new people and enjoying exchanging views and stories and making new friends.
But we each walk our own walk.
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Question: Since you walked without speaking, did this make your other senses more acute? (hearing, taste, touch etc...)
 

CaptainBonnie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan: 2 week to arrive at Santiago de Campostela in 2 weeks. Start 12th Nov 2017
Hello everyone,

Over the years I've read about lots of people talking about individuals who did Silent Caminos or Caminos in "Vow of Silence" but I never found an article from a person who actually did it. So I decided to create this post since I recently finished my Silent Camino. The purpose of this thread is to give other people a place to ask their questions about Silent Camino to a person who actually did it - me. Hopefully, this will help those people who are thinking about doing a Silent Camino or who are just curious about the whole experience.

So if you have any questions - feel free to ask away!

From 2nd to 26th of September 2020 I did the Silent Camino, starting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and ending in Santiago. I was 27 when I started and I had my 28 birthday on the Camino.

I realize there are many different ways to do a Silent Camino and a Vow of Silence. Every way can bring you lot of insights. In the following section, I'll give you answers about few basic questions on how and what I actually did.


WHAT exactly did I do?
  • I walked the whole Camino from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago without saying a single word, not even when I was alone. After I arrived to Santiago, my Vow was over and I talked to rest of the pilgrims and I went to Finisterre.

HOW did I do that?
  • I had a sign on my chest and one on my backpack secured with safety pins that said: "SILENT CAMINO - I've taken the vow of Silence". In retrospective, it would be pretty useful if I actually had a Spanish translation of that message bellow it because a lot of people did not exactly know English well enough to understand it.

  • I also carried a A4 sized whiteboard and lots of markers which allowed me to communicate to a certain degree. The board fit perfectly in a space between my backpack and the metal rig so I could pull it out and safely put it back with an ease.

  • I've also used 'Mhmms', 'Hmm' and couple of more weird sounds and clicks in my everyday communication.

WHY did I do that?
  • I had an idea of going through longer period of Silence long before I had any clue what Camino is. I believe a person could learn a lot about them self, communication and the World in general from Silence. About year before my Camino a lot of people in my life randomly started to talk about Camino - so idea formed in my head - to do the Silent Camino. My Camino is not motivated by religion but by curiosity and a desire to learn from this kind of experience.

Have I ever broken the Vow?

  • During the first day of Vow, I noticed that I would kinda mumble words out loud when reading road signs and things like that - so after that I realized that I had to be more careful about it and I never repeated that mistake again.

  • On the second day of the Vow I once said 'Daaaamn' when somebody pointed my attention to a very big snail on the floor. That was the only time I know of when I broke the Vow.

  • After the first two days, my brain kinds accepted the fact that I do not want to speak and from around third day onward, I didn't really have to focus my attention not to speak - it was automatic for me.

I'll stop writing here to avoid writing a looong thread. Feel free to comment and ask any questions. I'll be more than happy to answer them.
Amazing to say the least... Respect 🙏 You walked an average of 33km/day...!
It’s called VIPASNA in India... that regimen is normally undertaken in an Ashram of sorts ...
You trudged tramped amongst the meandering paths, asphalt roads, entering villages and towns, resting in Albergues, attending Church Services...
Again your choosing was for you..
But still I gain great strength in your determination will power and force..
You truly set a humble yet most difficult example to all of us..🙏 Captain Vivek ( Bonnie ) Bhasin - a fellow peregrino .. who needed to talk on the Camino ..’cause he generally keeps quiet in the big jungle..
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
@Zelmont...Well done! You are a mature young man of only 28 years old!
Being a good listener and not jumping in with your own 2 cents/opinions would be a remarkable accomplishment for most of us. I met a Korean man on my first camino in 2015 who was taking a vow of silence for a week as a personal discipline and I admired him for it. He had the nicest smile continually on his face and seemed perpetually happy. He was traveling with a friend, who explained what his buddy was doing.
 
Last edited:

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Phew! Thought you were upset at me😊
Which part of the world are you Chrissy?
Remarkable...
VBW. Capt Vivek ( Bonnie)
I'm from Illinois, in the midwest of the USA.
I know an Indian doctor named Vivek, nickname Vake.
 

CaptainBonnie

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan: 2 week to arrive at Santiago de Campostela in 2 weeks. Start 12th Nov 2017
Great! I am an ex. sea captain.. Navigated every ocean and finally the Camino Frances.... This year the world went into a tail spin and my Camino Portuguese from Lisbon to SdeC did not happen.. Am based in Simla Himalayas and Karlstad Sweden. Good to connect with you!
 

Zelmont

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances - Sep 2020
Would you do it again? Maybe not for so long of a time? Have you considered doing it at home?

Hmm - if I ever do Camino again, I wouldn't go Silent since I already done it once - tho you never know what future will bring. I'm still opened to going to Silent Retreats or something similar.

About doing a Vow of Silence at home, that's not something I really considered because my work does not allow me to do it. But I could do Silent weekends from time to time just to 'center' my self if I feel that I went astray.
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
At first I was confused, you took a vow of silence but then you carried a pen and paper to communicate... why shut off one means of communication only to use another? Then I read your comment about how your vow to not talk meant that you listened more and it struck a cord.
 

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