An Invitation to Silence
I was sitting outside a few days ago, taking a moment to enjoy the spring warmth. The cherry blossoms were dropping, and I sat in a blizzard of petals – quite different from the snow-blizzard I was shoveling only a few months ago!
Closing my eyes, I could hear sounds in all directions. The breeze ruffling the gentle spring leaves; bees bumbling in the cherry tree; a distant noise of traffic; the rippling of the creek that runs through my yard; a chorus of birds of all types and voices; the buzzing of a small airplane.
And underneath it all, through it all – silence.
Silence is always present. It’s like a blackboard. You can write as much as you want on the blackboard, and the blackboard is always there underneath. When you erase the writing, the blackboard is still there, no more, no less.
So it is with silence: it’s always there, and no matter what noise is going on, the silence is no more and no less.
This isn’t to say that noise, whatever it may be, is good or bad; it just is. That day in my back yard, there were plenty of noises of all sorts, many of them very beautiful.
Thoughts and emotions are noise as well. Just like birds or traffic or the dog barking down the street, some of them are more pleasant or interesting to experience than others.
It’s all noise, and the silence is always there.
From our earliest childhood we’re taught to pay attention to noise, not to silence. The noise of someone talking; the noise of a honking car or a warning siren; the noise of television and radio. The noise of your thoughts as you try to think through a problem; the noise of your emotions as you experience life. The visual noise of everything you see, the patterns of sunlight on the leaves and the lines of text on your computer screen.
I’d like to invite you to listen to silence and participate in stillness. It’s there, within, under, and around all the noise.
As you become more conscious of silence and stillness, you’ll become aware of spaciousness, a feeling of calm and quiet even in the midst of chaos.
How do you find it? Here are a few suggestions.
Close your eyes and really listen. There’s more to hear than you think. Listen to it all; hear it all. And then hear beyond it all. What’s there? How does it sound?
As you become more attuned to silence and stillness, you’ll notice how much more you’re hearing – birdsong and breezes, the sound of a lawn mower or a refrigerator motor, even your own beating heart and growling stomach. And through it all, deep, strong silence.
Meditation reveals silence and stillness inside yourself, where you can begin to reclaim your natural groundedness.
Just as when you listen to external noises and hear silence underneath, so you can turn inside and listen to your thoughts and emotions. What’s underneath them? How does it feel?
When you become aware of stillness and silence behind your thoughts and emotions, you’ll find it easier to just be with those thoughts and emotions. From the groundedness of silence, you’ll have less and less desire to change how you feel.
Like most of my clients, you’re probably a champion multi-tasker.
Stop. Experience one thing at a time; don’t drown your perceptions with noise from all directions.
When you take a walk, just walk – experience what you see, feel, smell, hear. When you sit down to dinner, just eat – experience what you taste, see, smell, chew.
Your physical, tactile experience of life is grounded in stillness. As you allow yourself to experience, fully experience without reading a book or watching TV (or whatever your multitask of choice may be), you’ll feel yourself standing in that vast, still silence.
You’ve almost certainly had your own experiences of silence and stillness. Remember them – remember what they felt like and what you were doing at the time.
One client wrote to me last New Year’s Day. Taking an early-morning walk on the beach, she’d experienced a deep sense of silence, stillness, and joy – even though the waves were crashing, the wind was blowing, and the birds were waking up and singing their morning chorale. She was a little baffled by how she could experience silence in the midst of all that noise, stillness in the midst of all that motion – but she also knew it was very real.
You can’t recreate an experience – but you can use the memory as a reminder of the constant presence of stillness and silence.
A final inquiry
Who is it – what is it – that experiences silence and stillness?
“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.” Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, 1869-1948, political and spiritual leader of India whose non-violent resistance movement led to India’s independence.
Helping bright, creative women break free from others’ expectations and reclaim their wholeness and power.
About the Author
I’m Jon Hansen of The Remembering Room.
After a lifetime of being all things to all people, is it possible to live from who you are instead of for other people’s expectations?
You can break down the walls and rediscover/reclaim the wholeness that’s your birthright. For more information or to access my free resources (including my free guided meditations) please visit The Remembering Room
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