When my life gets super busy like it does during the holidays, the thing I miss the most is silence. By silence I don’t mean time alone. You can be alone, yet busy with your thoughts. What I have grown to appreciate a lot these days is true silence: silence from doing, silence from thoughts, silence from words and silence even from images, memories, and emotions. The silence I am writing about is similar to the one you experience after extreme exhaustion from intense physical activity, when you can’t do or think anymore.
Most of us fall into silence by accident, it is almost like the side effect of something else.
Why do we need to be surrounded by noise? Noise is evidence of life. If you are not actively participating in life, you can turn on the TV and voila, you feel like you are part of it again. The sounds of the TV, playing a video game, calling a friend, getting on the internet, checking your emails, cleaning the house, making a list, … anything is better than sitting in silence, isn’t it? If doing and thinking are evidence of living, perhaps silence is associated with dying.
Part of our discomfort with silence is the lack of purpose associated with it. You don’t go into silence with a goal other than being silent. It won’t get you a better job, do your laundry or your shopping, it won’t even help you relax, because it won’t take away your problems.
Silence is about being comfortable with you. Silence has no agenda. Silence is not a punishment, yet it can feel like one. We have been conditioned to make good use of our time, to be productive and get things done. Sitting quietly without even thinking towards something might seem useless and pointless, yet I have found it to be a powerful experience.
Silence brings you back to you. The you that you lost doing all that stuff, playing all those roles, thinking about more stuff and more people, that you is craving to be quiet just for a while. Silence is similar to the white background of the canvas or the paper before you start painting. Silence brings clarity and puts you in a place of choice.
Energetically, silence can calm you down especially if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. However, that is the hardest time to be able to enter silence. Your thoughts and worries always seem to creep in. I try to spend as much time in silence as I can in a day. I walk out of silence gentler, calmer, and wiser. I become less reactive and more conscious and aware of what I want. I am clearer and life truly does become easier.
Silence is not necessarily meditation. It does not have a ritual, mantras, visualizations, sounds, etc. associated with it. It is plain and simple. Silence is where people find their answers. I know this to be true in my spiritual life coaching sessions with my clients. When there is nothing left to say, we both get quiet and the answers show up. The more comfortable we are with silence, the easier it becomes. When you trust that the answer is there, it just hasn’t shown itself to you yet, you are more motivated to sit in silence.
Indeed, silence does have a purpose. Its purpose is to give you the much needed space to discover your own answers. I wish for all of you out there, a very happy holiday season, a stupendous new year and the gift of silence so you can finally hear your own voice!
Best wishes to you and yours for 2012 and beyond!