No phones, talking or dinners: Inside a 10-day silent meditation camp in Singapore

Two things stood out to me. One, we would meditate for 10 whole hours every day. Two, our last meal of the day would be served at 11am. This was glaring because, on any given day, I would still be working through my coffee at that time. We also had to abide by five precepts:

1. We shall not commit wrong speech, which explains why a vow of silence is warranted. This means not speaking, gesturing, writing notes or even making eye contact with another course mate.

2. We shall not take another being’s life. That includes mosquitoes and spiders and explains why only vegetarian meals will be served.

3. We shall not consume intoxicants that would disrupt your sobriety. That includes alcohol, drowsy medication and painkillers.

4. We shall not steal.

5. We shall not partake in sexual activity.

On top of severing contact with the world, we would also have no access to books, magazines, films, podcasts, music and the news. Essentially, the course would starve our minds of information and entertainment in any way, shape or form. You would be forgiven for thinking this sounds like a cult. I did, too. But curiosity led me to Kranji MRT station on a Saturday morning, where I waited for a bus that would take me through a series of dirt roads to Sarimbun Scout Camp.

There were about 20 of us. We were mostly made up of aunties and uncles in their fifties, a handful of millennials, and one elderly who, despite being English-illiterate, had flown to Singapore to attend the course. The course operates on a donation basis and funds collected on its last day will go towards organising the following one.