In today’s world where noise and chaos infiltrate our daily senses, a few staff from DPA decided to enjoy the sound of silence at Hush@Community – A social movement to bring the worlds of the hearing and the deaf together in a Silent TeaBar. Doubling up as a meditative space over a silent tea ritual conducted by the lovingly-trained TeaRistas, the movement also aimed to help busy people slow down and embrace silence over a cuppa.
In the 3rd installation of Hush@Community held on the 3rd of June 2017, “Gratitude” was the theme. Participants were led into a room where the ambiance was calm and silent. Each group was introduced to their respective TeaRistas from the Deaf community, who engaged us in a session of signing. We learnt to sign frequently-used greetings to one another, and shared a few good laughs around the table when we were challenged by the complexities of signing. We also learnt that body language and facial expressions are especially important in communicating emotions in the absence of verbal cues.
The TeaRitual began with participants being invited to take in the scents of various types of tea leaves. Before returning to our seats, we each picked out a card that had words written by past participants on it. Through an animated presentation, the TeaRistas gave instructions on what to do once the ritual starts.
Tea was served, and our time of silent reflection on various aspects of our lives began – Recall a person you are grateful for. How has this person affected you? What do you like to say to this person? Recall a challenge. What happened? What are two reasons to be grateful for, now? Think of two reasons to be grateful of yourself. What are they? The zen and the calm along with the tough questions made for a more simulated mind, but can you hush your mind in the silence?
After a quiet moment of reflection and deep breaths, we were free to express ourselves on a blank piece of paper using the materials provided on the table – Flowers, leaves, sticks and tea ink. Similar to the card that we picked out at the beginning of the session, we also wrote a nugget of our experience on a card for the next person attending the session.
Some experienced their senses being heightened when their hearing was limited, others experienced a blur of events and got lost in what is going on. Some say peace is the friend we find in silence, others say they have never heard silence quite this loudly. Some found it calming, others found it discomforting.
But in this silence, we understood the notion of how the Deaf experience their world.
While many of us appreciated the silence and calm offered in the space with the tea ritual, it also raised the question – If silence was forever, would you be able to handle it?