Absence of noise. A place. A state of being. A chance to listen. Silence.
Not sure what to say next because I’m not supposed to be talking. Apparently I’m supposed to be quiet right now.
Not an easy task for me. Just ask Little Sis…. or Carni-Mom. Plus I am supposed to be contributing to our Well-Being series. So I get to proceed – as usual :-) talking about silence.
Beyond my own ability to keep my mouth shut, and my enthusiasm bridled, there is the relative difficulty we all face of establishing quiet around ourselves even with our mouths shut. We are surrounded by devices and machines and tasks and people and news and entertainment and alarms and warnings and intentions and plans and much human noise. Yet, amidst all of this noise, most of us would agree that silence is powerful. Isn’t that a bit telling? Silence is something powerful that we often decrease or even eliminate from our lives. Perhaps a year of wellness warrants taking a closer look at silence and what we can get from silence.
Sometimes silence is scary. We associate it with apocalypse. Perhaps it is more truly associated with a chink in our civilized armor. Perhaps we don’t want time to think about more than our devices, schedules, tasks, entertainment and distraction, because if we do we might be faced with some questions about our own priorities, or our own power, or our own disappointments. Perhaps our ‘conquest’ of the natural world is only complete if we are removed from the natural world. How is it that we acknowledge this power and can acknowledge that it is a good thing, (think ‘peace and quiet’) but are for some reason losing, or even avoiding silence.
Silence is one of those things, like a dark night sky, or fear of predators, or for many people the ability to provide one’s own basic needs, that for good or ill we lose with modern civilization. It is power that can weigh like an anvil, or beckon like a boat at the end of a dock on a peaceful lake. Silence allows expansion. It is a starting place. A void. There are places that silence can take us. Perhaps journeys that feed our imaginations, our spiritual musings or longings or feed insights that can help us grow, prioritize and appreciate all of the blessings in our lives require a clear canvas on which to unfold?
True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment. ~William Penn
Where to start such a journey? In order to appreciate or benefit from silence, we must find it, make it, accept it, allow it and work with it. As is our wont over here at the Pantry, baby steps come to mind in any endeavor of change or exploration that seems difficult or even impossible.
Start by thinking about the sources of noise that block out natural noises in your life.
Is there a TV, radio or other device that makes noise always on at your house or in your car? Does it ever get turned off? Can you set a time each day when the devices will be silenced? It doesn’t have to be a big deal of everyone being very quiet. It could just be a time without music, TV, news or other outside noise.
An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind. ~Walter Bagehot
Being quiet is indeed not easy which is why I suggest just establishing a few times with less noise as a starter. You might be surprised by what you notice or even think about with less noisy stimulation going on.
You might also like to try some true quiet time when there is an intention of not making noise.
We will sometimes sit as a family and meditate. Other times we will simply be quiet for a number of minutes, close eyes and mouths and pay attention to what we are hearing, smelling, and feeling. We often discuss what we noticed when done, and also do this outside to notice smells, sounds and feelings outside. This was especially hard for our son at first, but he has become quite good at it and can now also be still and meditate. If you’d like some ideas for family meditation, we have enjoyed these 2 books:
This one being particularly good for young children. The next one works for all ages, especially if you are willing to just replace the words ‘child’ or ‘children’ with people / family members, etc.
Silence is the true friend that never betrays. ~Confucius
Once there is some silence in your life, I believe it then becomes easier to choose noise more wisely. One can decide to actually listen to music OR to have it be a soundtrack in the background OR not have it at all. Well-being, or being well is not an accident but a result of our choices and our reactions to the things we can not control. Silence and meditation are wonderful ways of increasing self awareness, mindfulness, stress-reduction and peace.
Silence is a source of great strength. ~Lao Tzu
(Quotes were all found at http://www.quotegarden.com/silence.html)