By Kelly Lindsey
In our daily lives, we are often surrounded by noise that distracts us from really feeling ourselves. Having tasted the profound healing of silence, I have come to believe that the constant noise that surrounds us creates unnecessary stress, anxiety, and illness. Yet, most of us are uncomfortable in silence and we perpetually fill the space with sound and unnecessary speech or busy-ness. We really do have to learn how to become comfortable being still and silent.
Practicing silence is a way of connecting with what is sacred. When you walk into a church or temple or sacred place, or find yourself in the presence of a holy being, you might discover that you spontaneously fall quiet and listen, deeply. Meditation practice is an invitation to do the same. By honoring deeply what is sacred within each of us, we can tune in to what is happening right now.
I found it interesting to discover that the words SILENT and LISTEN contain the same 6 letters. When we practice silence, we learn to listen. When we are still we can listen with more than our ears, we can begin to listen with our whole being. Stillness leads to silence.
In much the same way that stillness is not the absence of movement, Silence is not the absence of sound. Buddhist teacher Adyashanti says that “silence is the absence of ego.” Ego is the part of ourselves that wants things to be other than they are.
In the silence, we have an opportunity to really listen to the silent whispers of our own hearts. There are a few lines that keep coming to my mind from a children’s movie that came out a few years ago called “Happy Feet”: “You have to find your heart song all by yourself. It’s the voice you hear inside. It’s who you truly are.”
When you listen deeply, what do you hear?
Practicing with Silence
I suggest you try to commit to a little bit of formal meditation practice each day, connecting with the stillness and silence in your body and mind:
- Choose to be quiet and to listen to the sounds and sensations arising within and around you.
- Practice silence when taking a walk or eating a meal.
- Consider taking a one day sabbatical from television, radio, internet, and the telephone.
- Plan to spend a day, or even just a morning, in silence, not speaking or being spoken to (you have to get your family and friends on board if you choose to try this).
Retreating to Silence
Your daily meditation practice provides you with an opportunity to experience moments of silence every day. But sometimes you may long for a deeper commitment to silence. That’s when going on retreat can be a way to nourish and strengthen your practice.
Be Still, and the Silence will sing for you.
Kelly Lindsey is offering a Master Class on 29 January and will be teaching the practice of Contemplative Meditation. Register Here
Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder that silence connects us to the sacred. I completely agree that we are bombarded with noise almost everywhere we go. It would be so wonderful if public spaces like grocery stores would cut the volume down on noisy music. Maybe buying groceries could become a contemplative practice? 🙂
Love that idea, Leanna!
Thank you Kelly! I needed to read exactly this today. It is so nice to “listen” to your voice through this piece; I feel like I am finally coming out of the throes of early parenthood – our kids just turned 6 and 8 – and there is at least the potential for silence! Time to renew my practice. Thanks and love!
I was actually born mute and spent most of my childhood/life this way. I think most people will be surprised with how deep of a connection they can develop with themselves, and how well the silence can serve their mindful practice.
Thanks so much for sharing, Justin.