Quieting The Mind And Spirit: A Journey To The Island Of Silence

by: cassandracarolina

Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:57:11 AM EST



While many yearn for peace on Earth, I would be content with a few minute, hours, or days of peace and quiet. We inhabit a world of noise, disturbance, and distress, bidden and unbidden. Even if we can shut off the radio, television, lawn care guys with leaf-blowers, planes overhead, trains/buses/cars outside, the clacking of office machines and household appliances, the audiovisual assault of video games, jackhammers, barking dogs (not those belonging to you moosies, of course), beeping gadgets alerting us, and other threats to sanity, there's still the inner noise of our thoughts and fears.

What if we could just shut it all off, even for an hour or two?

Today, I'd like to provide you noise-stressed moosies with an armchair journey to the Island of Silence for some peaceful contemplation.

Island of Silence Sign

Situated in the Piedmont of Italy, the Island of Silence is a short trip from Milan.

Italy Lakes Region Map

While the larger lakes like Lago Como and Lago Maggiore get a lot of tourist action, the smaller Lago D'Orta is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the bunch.

Lago D'Orta Isola San Giulio

The Island of Silence is properly known as Isola San Giulio, seen here from nearby Orta San Giulio.

San Giulio, for whom the place (Orta) and the island (Isola) are named, springs from an interesting legend http://www.kuriositas.com/2011... (this site has some beautiful photos you might want to check out)

Legend has it that St Guilio (or Julius of Novara in English) founded his one hundredth church here in the fourth century AD. It is just west of the charming village of Orta San Giulio (also named after Julius of Novara). The island was the lair of a giant serpent, which used the island as a launch pad to attack local villages. Yet St Guilio arrived and with his ability to command the waves he journeyed over the water on his cloak and banished the creature from the island.

Mmmm... okay. The good news is that you moosies that worry about snakes should have one less thing to concern yourselves with. Really, there is hardly any room for snakes, as the island is only 275 meter

If you never made it to Isola San Giulio, that would be a shame, but Orta San Giulio is a fascinating and beautiful place on the shore.

Orta San Giulio Buildings

Even the cats are relaxed and stress-free in Orta San Giulio, as this much-posted photo can attest:

Cat Stonewall Orta San Giulio

Once you've had a stroll around Orta San Giulio, it's only a short boat trip to Isola San Giulio, which will further add to your newly relaxed state of mind. The actual boat is only a little bigger than this one, with a trolling motor, but this one is much prettier, so please forgive my capitulation to aesthetics over technical accuracy.

Rowboat Emanuela Lake Orta

Once you step onto Isola San Giulio, you can see that space is at a premium. Every available bit of land - and overhead space - has been built upon, always with attention to form and function.

Lago D'Orta alley

You'll also begin to feel a sense of calm as you walk the ancient roads and paths and take in the beauty of the buildings. Everything on the island is built of stone. Clearly, it wasn't transported in those charming little boats that transport visitors to the island. Something tells me that there might have been some less than contemplative utterances in the course of all that construction work.

Lago D'Orta balcony and basilica

Anchoring the island is the Basilica San Giulio:

Lago D'Orta Basilica

The current edifice is the culmination of centuries of construction, as is often the case with churches and wealthy patrons keen on outdoing their predecessors:

After St Giulio's death a small chapel was erected on the island in the fifth century (this was after the Christian religion was decriminalized by the powers that be in Rome and persecution had ended). Archeology has revealed a much bigger church there in the sixth century.

A baptistery was also established in the middle of the island at about the same time. Yet in the nineteenth century a seminary was built there, erasing any record of its existence. For the last three decades it has been a Benedictine monastery. There is an air of peace over the entire island, perhaps because of the presence of this contemplative institution.

The pathways that ring the island and weave through these venerable buildings form the Way of Silence, and visitors are encouraged to STFU observe appropriate silent and contemplative demeanor befitting the monsastic surroundings. It's well worth the effort to do so.

Perhaps you have your own Island of Silence available within travel distance - a place in the woods, the mountains, on a lake, or just in your mind. Spend some time there whenever you can. It's as important to your physical and mental health as fresh air, healthy food, and a good night's sleep. There's plenty of room in that little boat for all you moosies if you're willing to squish together for a wonderful journey.  

cassandracarolina :: Quieting The Mind And Spirit: A Journey To The Island Of Silence
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Tips for silence and contemplation (2.00 / 20)
Where do you go - literally or metaphorically - to find some peace and quiet in this noisy world?  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


This is wonderful. You got right to the photos. (2.00 / 14)
It seems that all cities and work places should have places of silence and tranquility. It would make for more productivity and less stress. And probably reduce health care costs.  

[ Parent ]
Ronk, you have touched on a real issue for me (2.00 / 11)
which is the trend to tearing down office walls and putting everyone into "cubicle farms", where their senses are assaulted all day long.

In a way, I'm grateful to have been laid off before my local office was moved and reconfigured to this new "low square footage per employee" scenario. It may be more energy efficient, but in terms of productivity and mental health, it's a disaster.

I always got much more done on days that I worked from  home.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
I always got more done on days (2.00 / 9)
when I worked from the office -- and NO ONE else was there. Though I didn't go in a lot on weekends or holidays, it was heaven for productivity. No one else distracting in any way, usually.

And yes, the days when I had an office were much better than those when I lived in a cube.  

Love anyway.


[ Parent ]
Nice to see you here in Moosylvania, Melanie in IA! (2.00 / 9)
I didn't mind (well, much) being in a cubicle at the outset of my career, but to be stuffed into one after 30+ years of good behavior in corporate America is an indignity "up with which I will not put".  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
Lovely....thank you (2.00 / 13)
As I get older I find I need more restful silence.

The photo of the wooden boat on the paving stones is very nice....makes me pause and daydream.

Love is the lasting legacy of our lives


It's true, princesspat... I'll be 60 tomorrow (2.00 / 13)
and there's either more noise these days, or I am turning into a crabby old lady ;-)

Here's the actual boat, so you can see that the photo above was the more picturesque choice ;-)

Lago D'Orta boat

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
We share a birthday..... (2.00 / 14)
I'll be 68 yrs old, and still wondering if I'll ever "grow up"....maturity is elusive at times!

Let's mentally board the picturesque boat and float for a while :)



Love is the lasting legacy of our lives


[ Parent ]
Well, happy upcoming birthday... to us! (2.00 / 14)
We should indeed celebrate with a boat ride to a lovely destination!

Remember: it's never too late to have a happy childhood!  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
Happy birthday to both of you! Heading out now to my present (2.00 / 10)
island of silence, a nice long walk.  Great diary cc!

"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
Thanks, nannyboz... (2.00 / 9)
I find that an hour trimming the undergrowth in my NC back yard woods is very therapeutic. The only sounds are the ones I make scrunching around. Who could imagine that GW Bush and I would share the same hobby?! That's just scary!  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
LOL, you and the shrub sharing a favorite pastime is a tough nut to (2.00 / 7)
sell!  We have been trimming and removing the last of the leaves, more tasks that just soothe.  BTW, don't get all het up about raking leaves here until January when they finally finish falling.  We usually keep walkways and courtyard cleared during the fall and then remove them all as above.  Leaving what has fallen over winter until they're all down creates good cover for the perennials.

"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
The leaves here in NC are epic, nannyboz (2.00 / 8)
especially the turkey oak leaves, that have the capacity to adhere to surfaces even through hurricanes, it would seem. I have a landscape service that takes care of my lawn and leaves and pine-needle mulch so I can spend my time on the tasks I enjoy: pruning, thinning, trimming, and picking up basket after basket of pine cones and tree debris.

The crew just blows the leaves off the lawn in winter, letting them accumulate in an effective mulch around the shrubs, which is fine with me... other than the sound of the leaf blower ;-)  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
In our neighborhood the association (HOA) provides all front yard (2.00 / 8)
care, including leaf removal.  When we clear the areas in the fall we blow them to the front for the yard crew who blow everyone's leaves into huge tarps and take them away.  The back yard is all ours to contend with and it's where most of the leaves fall.  We have removed all of the grass and have a large brick courtyard surrounded by stone walls outlining flower beds.  Those are the really tough areas to clean up as we try not to step on anything we shouldn't.

"Pin your money to your girdle and don't talk to strangers."  My Grandmom's advice when I went away to school.  I don't wear a girdle and have never met a stranger.  Sorry Grandmom!

[ Parent ]
Happy Birthday, CC! (2.00 / 3)
Since I will (barring more tragedies of travel) miss tomorrow for all intents and purposes, let me wish you the happiest and - should you choose - quietest birthday ever experienced by Moose or Man.

:~)

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


[ Parent ]
Wonderful! (2.00 / 10)
I feel renewed just from the marvelous pics alone. Thanks! :-)

There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Ok, now this is ironic... (2.00 / 11)
We are having ADT work on our alarm system and setting off the ear-splitting alarm from time to time. That's what I get for wishing for a little peace and quiet ;-)  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


CC you touched on a few issues (2.00 / 11)
with this wonderful diary excursion. my dad's family were born in Corleone, Sicily and it's calling me. so many of your pictures reminded me of the narrow cobble stoned streets that i want to walk, the cafes that i want to sit all day and people watch and sip coffee. there are rumours of a trip in the O household so i might just get there soon.

closer to home- N O I S E- is my #1 irritant, especially here in the city. it just never, ever stops and my hearing is extemely sensitive.

i have found a few solutions though, everyday when i write or am simply online i wear these. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones, believe the hype, they are amazing.
 photo th-2.jpg

and then in about a week ot two i'll start making
the 20 minute journey to the greenhouse and grounds.
it's my personal chapel.

 photo urhausen013.jpg
.
 photo urhausen018-2.jpg  

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


Great advice, dear occupant (2.00 / 11)
I do have those Bose noise cancelling headphones, and they do help, but at times some loudly yammering people on airplanes manage to annoy me. I find it really hard to block out conversation.

Mr. Carolina, on the other hand, can be watching TV, reading, and talking to me, making my head asplode.

Your greenhouse pictures remind me of a wonderful nursery near my long-ago office. I used to go there at lunch to wander around and enjoy the warmth, humidity, and lush plants. It was great for alleviating stress and imagining life after the cold, hard, gray New England glaciers snow would melt.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
if the headphones mask 50% of the ambient noise (2.00 / 11)
my mind can do the rest. they were the best investment in my writing that i've made to date, truly invaluable now.

i like traveling quietly in the world, wish the world felt the same. :-/

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
They're great (2.00 / 9)
I got them for meditation, but use them all the time. I live in the city and there's always noise.

They've also kept me from further damaging my hearing when listening to music when I'm out and about. I don't have to blast it through ear buds anymore to be able to hear it above the external noise.

Pricey, but life changing and worth it to me.


[ Parent ]
do you remember Johnny Carson using the term (2.00 / 8)
'hermetically sealed', when doing the envelope bit?

that's how my eardrums feel when i have the Bose on. it's almost a pressurized air chamber between me and the offending outside noise. yeah, very pricey but one of the few luxuries i've afforded myself lately.

i tried earbuds, one always manages to fall out. :-/  

time...it seems to move so slowly until that day, when it doesn't.


[ Parent ]
I hear nothing (2.00 / 9)
My apartment is an island of silence. Right now, there's no traffic on the highway, the neighbors aren't playing music, no car alarms are going off, no one is mowing the lawn.

It's often very quiet here, but silent today. It must be the holiday.

Recently I've been in some noisy places and discovered that, while I've always hated noise, now I can't stand it at all. I've been ruined by the quiet.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.


Interesting point, JG in MD (2.00 / 9)
because my house here in NC is utterly quiet and any sound - like the TV, the generator running through its test cycle, or the fridge icemaker churning - seems disproportionately loud.


I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
Beautiful diary... (2.00 / 5)
I love the pictures, serenity seems to radiate from them. The scenery reminds me quite a bit of Tercera Island one of the Azores Islands. My dad was stationed there when I was a teenager--But it wasn't exactly oozing with tranquility, not with military planes flying overhead all hours of the day!

This will sound so selfish,, but here goes...My household with my husband and son home is always loud and busy. I love late mornings and afternoon before the crazy begins again. The majority of the time I'm content to listen to the quiet. No televisions going, no radios--I have to contend with some road noise, refrigerators, fans and in the warmer weather--air conditioners. But even that I can handle as long as I'm able to have a long stretch of quiet and calm.

During that time, my favorite noise is the whirl of the spinning wheel, I guess that's my form of meditation, watching fiber slip from fingers and twist into yarnie goodness.



"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle"...."We make a Living by what we get...We make a Life by what we give."  


LeftOverFlowerChild, your mention of the spinning wheel (2.00 / 4)
reminds me of my grandmother's old treadle sewing machine. I loved using that. I think we lack for interactive experiences these days - the involvement of the body rather than just the mind + computer keyboard. I love the repetitive motions of pruning plants, clearing brush, brushing long-haired dogs, sweeping the driveway. They do facilitate a meditative state that's very soothing.  

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
An entranced by the idea of an island (2.00 / 4)
of silence and your particular island of silence. Although an island person (live in Manhattan), the perfect zone of silence for me was camping in the Central Desert of Australia. I would wake up in the middle of the night and see the Southern Cross and a sky not like that of my homeland. Other than the snores of the dogs and humans it was totally quiet! I would sit up in my swag, stir up the fire, and fill up my tin cup with tea and think of the universe. It was wonderful. My heart sang.  On the other hand, Bach is my spiritual journey, quieting my mind and lifting my heart,

Portlaw, classical music can indeed be an escape (2.00 / 4)
but your camping trip in Australia sounds wonderful! I spent three wonderful weeks in Australia including a trip to marvelous Philip Island near Melbourne, home of the famed "Penguin Parade". Every night, at a fairly predictable time, these small bluish and white penguins emerge emerge from the sea and totter along a path to their little burrows in a scragglly hillside. Photography is verboten, but the gift shop sells great picture books and video.

Here's a view of part of the island's rugged coast away from the "penguin beach"

Philip Island Coast

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.


-- Oscar Wilde


[ Parent ]
Had wanted to see the Penquin Parade but (2.00 / 4)
was only in Melbourne, really St Kilda's, for an overnight to see an old friend. Had to leave for Alice Springs, our launching spot, at dawn. Love your description of
these small bluish and white penguins emerge emerge from the sea and totter along a path to their little burrows in a scragglly hillside
Makes me smile and makes me dream!

[ Parent ]
We are kindred spirits... (2.00 / 4)
...as far as music goes. I always resort to Bach when I need anything, from mental clarity to emotional sustenance. :-)

There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

[ Parent ]
Then we are indeed true kindred spirits! There (2.00 / 4)
was a radio announcer at some NYC station with a late night show who always began by saying "After Bach, I like silence best." Bach is one of the few for whom the label "genius" is too modest.

[ Parent ]
Then we are indeed true kindred spirits! There (2.00 / 3)
was a radio announcer at some NYC station with a late night show who always began by saying "After Bach, I like silence best." Bach is one of the few for whom the label "genius" is too modest.

[ Parent ]
My only Italian experience has been Rome, (2.00 / 4)
which certainly doesn't do a lot of silence.

But at 5am walking down from the Hilton Cavalieri and around the Vatican you can catch a glimpse of silence in the distance. The dripping green of the hill and the cool quiet of stones that have been noisily wrestled into place and trod upon and around for millennia.

Rome was where noise was born, and even there it lingers.

I like the quiet of our various country homes. The coastal redwoods filling our little valley in Scotts Valley soaked up the ambient background with their think soft bark and nano-channeled needles. The lake and woods here provide a buffer, and the still cold winter nights on Kawagama Lake in Ontario are deafeningly muffled, even the mortar-crumps of ice expanding at 2am coming through like kettle drums full of feathers.

Silence is, indeed, golden.  

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."


Lately my only quiet time (2.00 / 2)
Is in the car when my husband stays with the kids so I can run errands.  The island of silence sounds like heaven.  Beautiful writing and pics.  Thanks.

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