Silence is commonly known as the absence of noise. But is there really all that silence is?
What is silence? Where is it? And why is it more important now than ever?
For some people silence can be boring. Or sometimes it can be seen as a sign of loneliness or sorrow and suffering and in avoiding it we think that we are avoiding suffering.
Even some might think that silence is a form of weakness or retreating from the world.
Sometimes silence can be experienced as a restriction.
Some even avoid silence for fear of missing out.
Many of us are afraid of silence. We are constantly consuming something - text, music, radio, television, or thoughts. If quiet and space are so important for our happiness, why don’t we make more room for them in our lives?
It seems our need to occupy ourselves with one thing or another is a collective disease nowadays which is happily entertained by advertisers who are continuously showing us how we are not enough or how we are not really living life without the item or experience that they are selling us.
The philosopher and boredom theorist Blaise Pascal stated as early as 1600s ‘The present hurts’. And our response is to look ceaselessly for fresh purposes that draw our attention outwards, away from ourselves. Furthermore, over the last decades, the variety of distractions has increased tremendously.
Silence doesn’t just mean not talking or the absence of noise pollution. Most of the noise we experience is the busy chatter inside our own head. We think and rethink, around and around in circles. Taking quiet time to come home to ourselves with awareness is the only thing that will help heal our suffering.
There is no point in outward calm if our mind is filled with noise.
What if we allowed ourselves to occasionally feel a little bored? To refrain from consuming and from connecting to the outward world. To stop and wonder about what it is that we are actually doing. What if we got into what we are doing, experiencing rather than overthinking, not living through other people and other things. Staying with ourself and being totally present when we run, cook food, have sex, study, chat, work, think of a new idea, read or dance.
We cannot wait for it to get quiet. We must create our own silence.
Silence is essential, it’s a hygiene factor: we need it just as much as we need air. When our minds are overloaded with thoughts, there is no space for us.
The performance artist Marina Abramovich has made silence into an art form. In 2010 she sat for 736 hours and 30 minutes inside MOMA in New York, looking straight into 1545 visitors' eyes without saying a word. The work was entitled ‘The Artist is Present’. Silence is a tool helping us to escape the surrounding world. ‘If you manage it, it becomes like a waterfall in your brain, ' she says.
For me silence is a luxury. It’s not something spiritual, but rather as a practical resource for living a richer life, a deeper form of experiencing life. While generally luxury is associated with adding more to more, silence is about taking away, about subtracting.
As Thich Nhat Hanh explains ‘conscious, intentional quiet is noble silence. Sometimes people assume that silence has to be serious, but there’s a lightness in the noble silence. Noble Silence is a kind of silence that can have just as much joy in it as a good laugh. This silence is called noble because it has the power to heal. When you practice noble silence, you aren’t just refraining from talking, you’re coming and quieting your thinking. You’re turning off radio nonstop thinking.’
So how can we experience more silence in our life?
For example taking trips into nature, leaving our electronics at home. Walking is a beautiful way to empty our mind without trying to empty our mind. We don’t say to ourselves ‘now I’m going to practice meditation’ or ‘now I’m not going to think’; we just walk and by simply focusing on walking, joy and awareness come naturally.
This can really sound like a luxury but being on our own for a number of days in a row or doing a silent retreat can be transformative.
But the most accessible way to silence is in the middle of any activity: practicing mindfulness, breathing in and out mindfully. Paying attention only to the breath, we can quiet all the noise with it as the chattering about the past, the future, and the longing for something more.
Remember: there is great strength in silence.
In music there are moments of rest, of no sound. If those spaces weren’t there, it would be a mess, it would be hectic. And that’s how we are without silence as well.
If you too are looking to bring more peace and mindfulness into your life and if you feel you need a personalized easy to follow step by step action plan on how to make that happen, message me directly for a no compromise free Coaching consultation and I would be happy to support you achieve anything you desire.