The other night, I was in my hammock on our porch, in the dark, swaying and listening to the sounds of the night.
As I allowed myself to be soothed by the motion, my eyes closed. I felt all the activity of the day slowly leaving my body, and a sense of peace came over me.
I could feel my muscles relaxing and my breath slowing down, and I became aware of the sounds emerging around me.
It was twilight. First, I noticed the birds and their various songs and calls. Then there were the frogs and toads who joined the chorus. Crickets appeared, chirping. There was an audible breeze moving leaves of different types of trees, and I thought to myself, these are the sounds of the space between the day and the night.
These are the sounds of silence.
What I was doing was being completely, totally silent—every layer of my being had surrendered to the natural rhythm of nature around me. What I realized was how restful and soothing and restorative it can be to simply listen to all of nature around me expressing herself in that moment—my fellow living creatures, the elements.
I immediately felt that I too was merging with that common rhythm, both voluntarily and involuntarily. What I understood, with every cell of my being, was that this rhythm in nature is universal, and when I tap into it my spiritual self is also nurtured.
Whether we believe in a higher self or not, we all share—in every expression of life—a rhythm. I can’t prove it scientifically, and maybe someone already has, but I can feel it!
We know that being out in nature is good for us. Getting away from our electronics, our multitasking, our daily routines at work and at home, and all the stressors of daily life helps restore balance to our bodies, souls, and minds. All of the senses are engaged when we are in a natural environment.
When I would think about getting out in nature, it used to mean going somewhere: the woods, the mountains, the beach. What became clear to me that evening was that I can be anywhere, including home, to tap into the rhythm of nature.
I live in the country, but recognize that for those who live in the city this might be more challenging. But there are options for them as well. Scientists have documented how even staring at a beautiful picture of nature can soothe our nervous system.
Taking time to connect with this universal rhythm of nature is necessary and healing for us all. Something happens when we truly listen—when we tune out all the noise that lives in our head, all the things we have to remember, all the tasks we need to complete. The act of focusing on the sounds around us and consciously connecting to them, feeling our common rhythm, is restorative and we emerge feeling more aware and more in-line with our center, our source.
There are even yogic practices for achieving this experience. Dharana is the Sanskrit word for one-pointed concentration, or focusing on what is happening around us, in the moment. We can also isolate a single sound and focus exclusively on that with any of our senses. And samyama is the Sanskrit word for so closely identifying with another being or object as to become one with it.
The more we practice and experience being in this place of stillness, the more lasting the effects will be, and the more we will also notice when we’re “not there.” All we have to do is take the time to slow down in a quiet space, whether inside or in nature.
Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you, listen to the sounds of silence in your head.