The Carthusian monks at Parkminster monastery in Southern England are allowed to talk just twice a week. The remainder of their time is spent in prayer and contemplation. They have chosen a life of silence as a way of helping them communicate with God.
But Christianity isn't the only faith to prize silence. Sufi mystics, Hindu ascetics and Buddhists all give it a special place and you don't have to be religious to want to find solitude in a world full of noise.The internet is full of adverts for silent retreats.
In this BBC World Service radio podcast Peter Stanford explores how people are looking for spiritual insights away from the bustle and chat of everyday life, as he explores the spiritual value of silence
You can listen to the complete programme here which lasts 28 minutes but is well worth it