A weekend in silence – impressions, inspirations and insights

Last weekend I had the first opportunity to lead two “silent full-day retreats” in a row. The “day in silence retreat” supports participants in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR for short) to strengthen and deepen the experience of mindfulness and is an essential part of the eight-weeks.

Silence is officially rung in at the start and broken at the end of the day, when participants initially are only permitted to whisper. The experience in a group-setting is deeply connecting and is experienced as being extremely enriching, especially for participants who are used to silence, as they live alone.

During the retreat, sitting meditations focusing attention on the breath, body awareness, hearing (to sharpen sensory perception), recognition of the process of thought-flow or immersion in open awareness, alternate with walking meditations, mindful movement in standing, lying or sitting and with a body scan. Other types of meditation are also practiced, such as a lake or mountain meditation and a practice for compassion or loving kindness, also called Metta.

The lake and mountain meditations, which are my favorites, are metaphors used to connect us with the inherent properties of nature, such as stability, grounding, imperturbability, flexibility, and inner strength. Characteristics that allow us to imbibe inner stability and stay equanimous in challenging times. “Awaken the mountain within you!”

An important part of the day retreat is the practice of mindful eating. We are so used to taking our meals in standing, at haste, and usually in the company of family, colleagues, or friends, accompanied by talk, chatter and a lack of concentration. The perception of what we are eating and ingesting fades into the background. The only aspect that prevails is the intensity of taste. Eating in silence, sharpens all our senses, allowing us to experience the entire process of food preparation, of cooking, of arranging the meal on a plate, of setting the table, and of eating in its totality. Suddenly we become aware of hitherto unexperienced visual, tactical, odor and taste stimuli. According to scientific studies, food is digested better and more completely during a mindful meal. How about a try?

Inspiring stories and poems as well as short lectures on elements of the program complete the agenda.

The gentle introduction of speaking, after six hours in silence allows a further contemplation of the day, of insights revealed, effects of meditations and exercises, inspirations from texts read. The silent retreat motivates participants to consciously continue this path of mindfulness even after the end of the MBSR course.

“A beautiful day”……

“I feel in tune with myself”…….

“Time has passed in no time, are we already at the end of the retreat?”

“I could remain silent forever”…….

“I want to be deliberately silent once a week!”

“All my senses and taste-buds were completely open during the meal. What an explosion!”

“I was initially a little bit wary of today, but from moment to moment the feeling disappeared……”

The fluid transition of formal meditation practice into informal practice made us open, curious, and fully present for any experience, without categorizing it as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. The cultivation of mindful awareness, as way of being, is more necessary than ever, especially in these times of unpredictable, disruptive crisis.

In the words of the Master Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Silence is essential.
We need silence,
just as much as we need air,
just as much as plants need light.
If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts,
there is no space for us.”


Mindfulness in Banking and Finance – a Master thesis on the framework required


Yesterday, on September 9th, I had the honour of participating in a “in person” defence of a Master thesis at the University of applied sciences, kph Wien/Krems. Sonja Rischer, who has just concluded the postgraduate course in “Mindfulness in education, consulting and healthcare”, wrote her thesis on Mindfulness in the finance sector. Her topic was “The conditions required for the introduction of mindfulness as a fundamental value in the corporate culture of financial companies”. As a supervisor and lecturer in the master’s course since 2018, it is inspiring to observe how scientific research studies of this kind, can enable Mindfulness to establish its mainstream standing in various areas. Perhaps the introduction of a culture of mindfulness could help the banking world to regain trustworthiness, something that occasionally gets undermined? Congratulations Sonja Rischer for her well-deserved Master of Science!

Master Thesis Presentation


Mindfulnesstraining – the universe within a raisin

Is it possible that the careful observation and investigation of a raisin succeeds in relaxing the mind and reducing our inner pressure? Healthcare experts worldwide would agree and recommend this form of Mindfulness meditation as an anti-stress agent. According to Mindfulness-Coach Martina Esberger-Chowdhury, “Many top managers meditate daily, in order to deal more effectively with their daily life and with periods of crisis”. Cedomira Schlapper has put together Mindfulness-exercises for the stress-relief series on “Heimat Fremde Heimat”:

Nipun and Martina Vienna Jan 2020

Nipun Mehta at Institutions of Education in Vienna

As part of his recent visit to Austria, Nipun Mehta, founder of Service Space was hosted by a number of prestigious institutions, like the University of Vienna and the Vienna University of Business and Economics.

Nipun’s keynote on “Cultivating Compassion Quotient” introduced the concept of bringing kindness and compassion to schools at the Symposium “Pädagogik der Achtsamkeit”. Organised by Karlheinz Valtl and his department at the “Zentrum für Lehrer*innenbildung” at Vienna University, this 9th symposium seeks to make Mindfulness part of teacher training.

At the WU Executive Academy of the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Nipun spoke on „Business & Kindness” and showed the existence of multiple forms of capital. The packed hall listened to how nature, attention, time, compassion, knowledge, culture and community to name a few, are forms that can be used to express gratitude. New forms of inspiring purpose? How about a culture of giving which leads to a culture of gratitude? Thanks to Christina Knopf of the WU Executive Academy and Univ.Prof. Michael Müller-Camen for sponsoring this event.

A truly inspiring visit. Honoured to have added to the ripples.

The Sound of Silence

Sound of Silence

On Monday, December 2nd, 2019, the pianist Marialena Fernandes, the mindfulness and meditation teacher Martina Esberger-Chowdhury, together with the moderator Eszter Dorner-Brader have put together a program titled “The Sound of Silence”. 

Music and meditation touch layers of Being, that we are unable to access by the intellect. In the energy-draining pre-holiday season, this is a special gift for us – to be one with ourselves and deeply at peace.

Registration required: clubalpha@alphafrauen.org

Quote: Alpha –  Newsletter Nov-Dec 2019/N. 174, S. 7)

More info

Club Alpha

Stubenbastei 12/14

1010 Vienna

Monday, 2.12.2019

19:00 Uhr

Moderator: Eszter Dorner-Brader.

Kick-Off event for a new initiative of a global pharmaceutical player

As part of the Kick-Off event for a new initiative of a global pharmaceutical player, I was invited to hold workshops in English and German on the core competence Mindfulness. The company is offering regular Mindfulness trainings to employees by an internal ambassador, to spread the concept and establish a practice. An extremely effective impulse to build the foundations for Mindfulness in the organization. It was inspiring to be part of the launch of this truly people-centered initiative.

Launch events and future workshops on “The Mind of The Leader”

Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter on a visit to Vienna.

Rasmus and Jacqueline visited the Danube metropolis for the launch of their new book “The Mind of the Leader – How to Lead Yourself, Your People and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results”. The book, published by Harvard Business Review Press, was presented to the Leadership Community at the 10th Peter Drucker Forum. As part of their visit, both authors were present at several events, including a Panel discussion at the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien and the Impact Hub Vienna.