“The central silence is the purest element of the soul, the soul most exalted, the core, the essence of the soul” Meister Eckhart
“Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb the silence.” Pythagoras
‘THE ENORMITY OF LIFE’S tasks weight and press on the day…they demand and insist on a constancy of attention that is relentless. Ah…but we are fortunate to have night’s solace – in the silence that is created by the dark.
Night…that melancholy time when the stars remind of the silence of God. Here we can remember the future and lean into the unknown setting aside the oppressive weight of our carefully constructed version of who we think we are, and release the side of the pool. We can remember how to see in the dark…with our ears…perceiving the silence in its holy echoing and resonate, its calling forth a knowing that is from the soul.
The silence sends us on a different pilgrimage. It guards the heart’s fire, and teaches us to speak from within, with a language that is imbued with the sacred. Words thus nurtured in this holy silence fly forth with the wings of joy, and return to lead us back to the silence from which they were born.” — Cheryl Sander Sardello
We live in a culture that values sharing every thought and feeling as it occurs. As a result, we often don’t pause to reflect on what we have just said. This lack of reflection can lead to a superficial connection with ourselves. It is true, Silence does not come naturally for most of us, especially in our modern society. Most people feel uneasy when there is an unexpected pause in conversations. There is a tendency to uncomfortably fill silent gaps with superficial talk, or anything at all. Or, we purposely avoid situations where noise is absent. We have acquired a taste to noise, and silence frightens us. By paying attention to the silence within our conversation and embracing those spaces, we can connect more deeply with ourselves and others. This deeper connection is the basis of an authentically engaged and self-actualized life. “He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” Elbert Hubbard
For the past ten years now, I’ve been conducting silent retreats in nature, moving from the huge bags of concepts and information and into the simplicity and at the same time the power of Silence. I usually invite the experience of silence as a creative companion presence that could help in loosening ego’s attachments and desires, and going beyond its chaotic noise to a place of inner communion and self-healing. This could tremendously shift ones perception of ones life and what one calls “the other!
When we enter the Silence with that intention to rest in the mind’s true nature, without “doing” anything whatsoever but resting there, then we truly are giving the mind a chance to relax. Lao Tsu speaks of Silence: “The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return. They grow and flourish and then return to the source. Returning to the source is Silence, which is the way of nature.”
Yes it is true, we might need to retreat ourselves at first in order to experience Silence, to enter her fully and nakedly; to learn how to silence the mind amidst crowded cities and their noise. We all need a simple practice to take on and do it every day, until it becomes part of us, until we can enter Her at any time, anywhere. So during retreats we usually learn how to practice, how to enter into the experience of Silence, as a whole, and also the many dimensions of the Silence. One of the practeses we do, is going into our hearts and listen to that voice with no words, the voice of the Silence, of just knowing, and hold others and ourselves in that space of compassion. And when we do this together, there is something else that comes in, a force, an energy that builds the momentum even stronger and which becomes very palpable; “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” Jesus. There are other powerful practices that we do together during the Silence retreat, but here I’m just suggesting some simple ways of incorporating Silence into your daily life:
- After waking up in the morning, take 5 quiet minutes before rising, to first clear your mind and listen to your breath, remember and record your dreams.
- Set your intentions for the day, repeat your older heart longing desires and loudly announce what you are grateful for (name few things that come to you without thinking too much…anything).
- Find a quiet corner at home or outside where you can build an altar or a “sanctuary”- somewhere you may contemplate, meditate, and read or journal in peace, without intrusions. Listening to Mother Nature’s sounds can bring an inner peace and rhythm that could stay with you all day.
- Take your morning coffee/tea outside on the patio instead of in front of a television.
- At least for the half of your trip turn the radio off while you are driving (do it on the first half, and you’ll see, you might actually really like the silence, and keep your radio off the whole time!). Give your driving your full attention. You may be surprised by what you notice around you!
- Take a few seconds to pause, breath, and organize your thoughts before speaking, or before the next sentence.
- Sit and experience the movement of Silence, attending to your interior landscape. Let your mind de-clutter. Start with ten minutes and lengthen progressively to 24 minutes.
- Dance, move your body to the rhythm of music, or just allow the Spirit to move your body in Silence. “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music” Aldous Huxley.
- Enjoy a silent evening. Read, write, and concentrate. Disconnect from all the electronics.
- Make room for quiet contemplation or prayer. Even five minutes helps with intentionally erasing the mind of the past and of the future. Let the mind rest in its natural state. Delight yourself in that silent space before the mind drifts to the space of sleepiness and dream. It will promote a sense of rest, bliss, and balance. “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” Francis Bacon
- Walk barefoot on the grass, go on a hike, watch the sunset, stroke a pet, swim in the ocean, or even weed the garden. Immersing yourself in nature, you will experience silent, unconditional, utter bliss and tranquility from your core. Every time you are in nature you will find that time literally stops and thoughts quiet. All that’s left is the beautiful sound of wind in the trees, of birds chirping, water trickling, and all the gaps of nature’s silence in between, along with that Silence within. “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Mother Theresa
- Attend a Silent retreat where you can immerse yourself into the profound power of Silence and Stillness.
“This quietness, this silence is the highest form of intelligence which is never personal, never yours of mine. Being anonymous, it is whole and immaculate.” Krishnamurti