“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” ~ Rumi
When was the last time that you found yourself in complete silence?
How often do you escape into nature to be alone with your own thoughts?
When was the last time you stopped all chatter and allowed the silence to whisper its lessons to you?
I am friends with silence. Often seeking it out, I crave being disconnected from stimulation. The world can be too much sometimes.
Silence can come in many different forms. I often find I connect most with silence in nature. I like to kick off my shoes and feel the earth below me. I like to dig my toes into the dirt and allow this connection with nature to ground me. This often triggers my thoughts to cease, bringing a sweet surrender to the present moment.
We most likely find ourselves too busy to connect with silence. From waking to the time we go to bed at night, we are rushing from task to task, barely paying attention to the moments in between because our thoughts are already ahead of us, or perhaps even behind us.
I found silence unexpectedly one night. My daughter and I were hunkered down in our little cabin waiting for the heavy rains of the hurricane to subside. We had our thoughts on dinner and watching a movie. The lights began to flicker, so I hastily scrambled for candles, headlamps and flashlights. In the next moment the power out entirely.
The silence that ensued was profound.
There was no hum from technology as if we were completely unplugged. There was no glow from the appliances. There was no music, no chatter, no vibrations, no talking. Complete and utter quiet.
We lit a few candles around our quaint home. The soft light created a safe container of warmth that instantly brought a sense of calm. It was dinner time, so I stoked the fire in the wood stove and proceeded to cook. This time, macaroni and cheese tasted delectable and nearly gourmet!
As we sat eating without a word exchanged, I toyed with the idea disconnecting this way more often to become better acquainted with silence. As my daughter began to fidget, it became apparent that this would be good for both of us. A chance for us to connect without any outside stimulation or distraction. I knew this would be hard for a 10-year-old little girl. I also felt that this would be a good opportunity for her to make friends with the moment.
My daughter asked if we could put batteries in her radio or if she could listen to her mp3 player. I suggested that we listen to the quiet for a moment and talk about what we heard. We could hear the rain pattering on the tin roof. We could hear the wind blowing around us and through the trees. We could hear the wood crackling in the stove. We could hear our breathing. We could hear our thoughts. I asked her how this made her feel. She said at first she didn’t like it, but now it felt calm.
After chatting for a bit I decided to practice my guitar. It had been nearly a year since I had picked up my instrument. I was a bit rusty, but I played for two hours until my fingers were too sore to go on anymore. While I strummed the songs, my daughter sang along. In between the singing and laughing the sound of silence was noticeably there as the air, void of sound, seemed to echo with nothingness. I helped my little girl find comfort. She embraced the moment willingly and fearlessly.
In those moments shared with my daughter I learned a valuable lesson. There are answers in the quiet. There is solace, connection, abundance, awareness and love. I felt that I had given my daughter a gift. The gift of ease in silence. It is full of comfort and healing when we find the time to surrender to it.
I continue to reflect on silence daily. I try to find a quiet moment at least once a day. I recall a time when I was uncomfortable with it. I can sense when others feel uncomfortable with it. When I teach yoga I often allow long moments of silence during certain poses in order to help my students go within themselves to check in on their bodies and minds. Many of us are not used to such silence in our daily lives. Even when we are alone with no music playing there is still the hum of electricity and the glow of lights. It is so important to be able to listen to the lessons in the silence. Sometimes there is more to learn from slowing down and going within.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.”
~ Chaim Potok, The Chosen
In relation to communication in relationships, silence has offered challenging insight. Verbal chatter can often cause more harm than not. Knowing when to offer words and when to allow the words to be spoken through the silence is a valuable tool. In the past I have tried to save crumbling relationships with too much talk. There is such a thing as over communication. It is important to know when and how to be patient when someone else needs to process. Silence often speaks louder than words.
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”
~ Will Rogers
Offering someone space and time when they request it shows more respect and understanding than any words you may offer. The silence can give us answers that normally would not reveal themselves through constant chatter. If we can surrender to silence, understanding will eventually come. It requires patience and willpower. Instead of looking to someone else for the answer, we can go within and seek our own inner truth.
“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”
~ Elbert Hubbard
I recall a time when I would try to cover up uncomfortable silences with nervous babble. I would inevitably say something that I would regret. My presence would overwhelm others. I learned how to harness this by sitting in meditation. I realized that in the silence there lies truth. When the truth is revealed it can lead to a shattering of illusions created by one’s perception. It can feel like we are being betrayed by our own self. However, any truth seeker should welcome this revelation, because it moves us closer to understanding and wisdom.
I still have the tendency to talk a lot; I am not perfect, though I am more aware of myself and am happy to just listen. This is something that had to be learned because I had spent years covering up my discomfort with dialog. This also included my inner chatter that I did not verbalize. I have found great strength I didn’t even know I had by making friends with outer and inner quiet. It has been a tool to heal anxiety within myself.
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.”
~ William S. Burroughs, The Job: Interviews with William S. Burroughs
We can find silence in almost any location. By sitting quietly and focusing on our breath, we can slow down the chatter of our thoughts and welcome a moment of peace. The more we practice being with ourselves, the easier it becomes. Our lives are so very busy and full that we often forget to check in with ourselves before it is too late. If we learn to quiet our mind and body then the relief from daily stresses can be relieved with little to no effort. A simple 5-10 minute sitting is more than enough. It will not only help to self soothe, it will allow for greater inner strength and inner knowledge.
“Silence is a source of Great Strength.”
~ Lao Tzu
One way to truly disconnect from stimulation is to seek out a spot in nature. Taking a walk while focusing on the breath and the placement of each deliberate step can bring a keen sense of mindful quiet. Sometimes the silence can seem so loud when you stop to really listen.
If you can’t get to nature, take an evening to yourself. Disconnect all of your technology. Unplug everything. Turn off all of the lights and light a few candles. Notice your breathing. Listen to the silence. Find solace in being with your self or in being quiet while with another person. Take time to slow down and unplug from society to tune in to your self. Discover the answers to everything from within.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and right doing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”
Nichole Gould is the founder of Barefoot Warrior Yoga in The White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a Student of life, yogini, yoga teacher, landscape gardener, single mother, organic pizza waitress and lover of all board sports, she considers herself a jack of much and a master of none. She can also be found dabbling with guitar playing, singing off key, reading from her many stacks of books or writing poetry. Feel feel to peruse her Facebook page or contact her via her website for more insight into her ever curious mind.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel