We humans express our selves and our lives in words, language, and sound. It is a learned process, reinforced with every generation. We talk our way through each day, sometimes clamoring to be heard above the general din of daily life that seems to have increased over time. Not only human voices but cars, buses, planes, media, and machinery (leaf blowers, snow blowers, etc.) add to the mix that becomes the “noise” we have learned to acclimate ourselves to—more or less. But at what cost? Today, stillness and complete silence often seem like the dream of a long-gone world. Yet, it is only in silence that we can hear the voice of spirit within, our own soul’s wisdom and guidance. Without that compass, we flounder through our lives, stumbling along the ego’s path of alternating attachment and avoidance in relation to all things. We are never at peace, always running toward or away from something. Only in stillness and soul connection can we find respite from that hamster wheel of striving and suffering.
Silence has always been important to me. As an only child, I spent long hours outside quietly playing alone or reading books high up in the branches of my favorite climbing tree. School was a place for friends and social connections; home was where I decompressed and communed with my self, although I was too young to even articulate it that way. As an adult, I found work to also be a “social” experience; when I came home, I needed large expanses of quiet time alone to rebalance myself. At some point, I began to meditate to more easily access that inner harmony. Gradually, I discovered that the longer I spent in silence, the more peaceful I became—and the more I carried that inner peace with me everywhere I went in my life.
My partner and I recently made an agreement to remain silent each morning until we finish breakfast. We finally figured out—after more than 30 years together—that this is the most peaceful way to begin the day for each of us. We both feel less distracted and more centered. When I am talking, I am not listening, period—whether to the subtle sounds of nature outside the window at dawn or to my soul’s voice within. Once I spend time in that inner/outer silent space, I can truly listen to others, and to life, with presence and without restless distraction. My partner and I start our days in a much happier, more harmonious frame of mind because we have given ourselves this gift. Even in the frequently noisy external world we all inhabit, it is possible to find ways to bring more quiet, stillness, and calm to our lives—and thus to the lives of others. In silence is the deepest truth, the most profound peace.
“…ours is not to make ourselves heard but to be still enough to hear.”—Mark Nepo