Even to think or utter the word “silence,” I find myself stilled, pastoral scenes of monastic or convent retreat settings where silence is the norm fill my mind screen. This is swiftly followed by visions of natural settings where no voices, no sirens, cars or daily noises that eventually become “white” background sounds, pierce the peacefulness of nature.
Human abilities to tune out daily background sounds is quite phenomenal. We once lived near the YVR flight path. Our guests, yelling simply to try to converse when aircraft flew over, would ask: “How can you stand that?”
We never even noticed it anymore. Adaptable humans that we are, we had very efficiently acclimatized to our environmental white noise. It simply never registered cerebrally that we rarely experienced true silence anymore. Looking back, we went camping more frequently in the years we resided there than in any other period in our lives. Perhaps our need for silence was balanced out without us even consciously aware of what we were doing to restore it.
As communication, I have found silence to be very effective. Sometimes it really is the only answer. For nothing you might say would be right no matter how good, well intended or truly fair or respectful what you say is. Silence is a healthy option for all concerned. It permits a cooling off, a regathering of thoughts and ideas. No situation is ever as black and white as we might imagine. Silence, then, can be the grace period where quiet contemplation of the situation in its entirety serves to expand our personal vision and awareness.
A friend who counsels in senior high school tells me she uses silence as a means of communication in a way I have, personally, found to be quite powerful. It works, at least for me. Sometimes, in her personal world, with a friend, relative or, on occasion with a client, when there is nothing left to say, my friend just “lets them sit in it.”
It’s really quite amazing how this works. Sometimes the silence achieves miracles no words ever could. In the gift of silence, all the person has is their own words echoing back. ECHOING… Echoing… echoing… Therein often lies the answer… for themselves.
Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Having employed the technique a multitude of times since learning it, I have witnessed it in motion. It is miraculous. My friends and I use silence frequently. It is comforting. We know the other loves us and is simply thinking, pondering and may or may not answer. But either way, we know we are loved and valued.
Which leads me to another thought, the very opposite of silence. Have you ever tried to watch a movie with a chatterbox by your side? Now there is a time when silence could well avert a war (smiles).
Recently, a friend wanted me to see a movie she was excited about and thought I would enjoy. Approximately 15 minutes in, my thoughts turned to other things, tuning out both the movie and her continuous explanations, narrations of the movie. Afterward, when she asked if I liked it, I said, “Truth?”
She said, “Yes, of course.”
“Well,” I said, “at the risk of hurting your feelings, I didn’t see it because someone chattered all the way through and I couldn’t get into the story at all.”
“Oh, no! I need to shut up! Just tell me to shut up!” she said.
We laughed and it was a learning experience for both of us. I learned that she can chatter incessantly and must be reigned in periodically, she learned that I will always tell her the truth.
Sometimes, in silence, lies truth. It says everything with nary a single word uttered.
Other times in silence lies peace. A quiet, nothingness that permits us to simply be without external interruption.
Not everyone can handle this type of introspective silence. They need constant distraction whether it be radio, TV, other people, video games, whatever it takes to occupy the neurons and keep them from quieting.
If I go too long without silence, I cannot handle anything. It feels as though something is pulling on me, nagging at me and not letting me be just be. In just a few moments of utter quiet, I find my way back to my centre, feel grounded and can move forward in the sure-footedness of peace.
The sensation is akin to sitting by a shore or in a wooded area. Sure, the sounds of nature are there but the sense of peace is also there. Going to connect to with some of mine right now.
Peace out for now, folks. Have a terrific, peaceful day, everyone, with a little bit of silence thrown in just to see if it changes anything up for you. Smiles.
First published: (c) Janni Styles April 14 2011 @ 14:09