Rejuvenate, Refresh and Regain Awareness Through Silence
by Susi Amendola
Photo Credit: su neko, via Flickr Creative Commons
How do you experience silence?
The practice of silence is a part of many spiritual traditions. It’s not just the absence of noise, but also about regaining an awareness of our inner world that is both powerful and profound. We can’t always quiet the noise around us, but by giving up speech we can stop engaging in it. When we stop speaking, we stop the drain of energy that takes place from talking. We let go of the urge to participate in what is happening around us. Through this practice, we are inspired to find a deeper connection to the world and ourselves.
Silence tones our insight and lengthens our reaction time. Just a little each day can reduce stress
The senses are constantly taking in the world around us for the mind to sort. As the mind takes in this constant flood of impressions and sensations, it stays infinitely busy. When we withdraw the mind from the senses, we stop feeding it. One way to withdraw is to stop speaking. This silence starts to strengthen our ability to observe and hold space for what is happening in the moment. We are gently redirected to our internal judgments, desires, longings and chatter. Through this experience, we can begin to let our inner voice arise and dissipate without adding to it, and we can begin to listen to it with a healthy dose of kindness and compassion. If we stop trying to change, or influence “what is, ” we are able to touch the rawness of the moment without an agenda. We begin to strengthen the part of ourselves that is clear and unbiased. The mind and the heart become brighter and clearer. When we do speak, our words have more meaning and power.
I will never forget one day when I was walking with my daughter in the garden. She was just learning to speak. I was so excited by her first words that I was pointing to everything in the garden and labeling everything we saw. “Look at the flower! Look at the bird! Can you say flower? Can you say bird?” A wise woman who had worked with children for a long time, stopped me and said, “You are taking away her ability to observe.” She went on to explain that language is limiting and if you observe with her in silence, she will notice so much more. She suggested that when I labeled, my daughter would accept that label and stop marveling at the depth and beauty of that particular bird. She may not notice its colors, feathers, the sounds it makes, the detail of its wings, the textures and feelings it inspires. I was deeply moved by what she was saying. Sometimes labels get in the way of our experience of the moment. Our speech can keep us from experiencing it more deeply. The practice of silence reminds us to sense differently. It clears a path to our own understanding. There are many ways to introduce the practice of silence into your daily routines.
Practicing Silence During A Meal
This will allow you to fully experience the food and the environment around you. You may even find that you eat less because you can hear your body telling you when you are full.
Take a Walk in Nature in Silence
Being quiet will allow you to take in the beauty of nature and let it nourish you on every level. Take off your headset and turn off the music, and instead take in the vitality and energy all around you. (See article, Nature: Fuel For Your Health)
Practice Silence For a Full Day
This is a way to dive deep into the experience. Let it be your own retreat or spa day. You may even find that after not talking for a day, your internal dialogue slows down and your mind feels rejuvenated and refreshed. Silence tones our insight and lengthens our reaction time. Just a little each day can reduce stress, and calm the mind. As you reintroduce speech it may be helpful to use the old saying…. “Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” This small refinement will empower you to carry the mindful quality that comes with silence into your daily life, bridging the gap between silence and thoughtful speech.
How do you experience silence?