Are you afraid to be quiet? Is it too daunting to think of being alone with yourself? What will happen if you turn off the sounds around you — the iPod, the radio, the TV, the chatting on the phone, the texting — all that surrounds you? Or maybe, wise you, you don’t live in this kind of noise any more.
Are we so addicted to all this noisy input that we cannot fathom what it is like to see how it feels to be quiet.? Maybe we have become what James Thurber, the great humorist, suggested:
Nowadays most men live lives of noisy desperation.
LESSON THIRTY SIX
Several years ago, when we were living in a quiet, leafy suburb of Chicago, we invited a successful playwright to stay with us as one of his plays was being produced in Chicago. He lived in the heart of New York City in an apartment surrounded by bustling activity and noise. After a few hours, sitting on the veranda at our home, with birds chirping, leaves gently rustling in the breeze, and squirrels making their way from one branch to another, he could not stand it any longer. He blurted out: “How can you stand it here? It is too quiet!” My husband and I were so stunned at this statement that we laughed in response.
The Arctic expresses the sum of all wisdom: silence.
Well, most of us will not be going to the Arctic anytime soon. So what about you? Can you stand a little silence? I don’t mean meditating, though that would be even better. I only suggest being still and turning off the outside chatter. You might even choose to go somewhere that is relatively quiet — somewhere like a path in the woods or a park or to a museum or library. In these places you will still have nature and artworks and books to keep you company, but, at least, the noise will be less. You might, at some point, realize that you (yes, YOU) are pretty good company to keep. And then your chattering mind might find it pleasant to drop back and relax.
Here are some ideas:
- Actively notice when you are bombarded with auditory influences and sound, then take note of times when you let these go. How does it feel?
- Make a conscious effort to take a little time each day to shut out exterior sound. Don’t try to find another distraction, like reading or texting.
- Make those time longer. Perhaps set a time aside to be still and, each day, make it a priority.
- You might make it even more positive by adding a statement: At the beginning of your quiet time say — I love myself completely now. — or — I enjoy this time to myself. — or any phrase that makes you feel good.
- You may notice, as time goes on, that YOU can be silent, calm and peaceful, even when surrounded by blaring sounds and cacophony.
This idea of stillness did not always come easy to me, so I can sympathize if this seems hard. Recently I went to a spiritual retreat center, a kind of summer camp for seekers. At dinner, i looked for a table marked with a sign that read “silence.” Most ashrams and places of this sort have them so I was disappointed that there was no table to just sit and feel the pleasure of nourishing good food. On the reverse, long ago, I was at a social gathering with a group of loquacious, high energy TV producers and others. Someone had heard of experiments on being silent. We agreed to try it and see how long we could be together without talking. It lasted for a while, with none of us used to such a thing. And guess who was the first to break the silence, to feel compelled to make some joke? That’s right. I could not just relax with the quiet. I was the first one to break the silence. But that was long before I had any idea I would begin meditating and go in the direction I took. I was “chatty Cathy” in those days.
Now there is little I relish more than stillness, my mantra and meditation. Just being, that’s all.
Mother Teresa made this statement:
We need to find God and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence.
See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence.
See the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move in silence…
We need silence in order to touch souls.
Who knows? In silence you may touch your own soul — and God.
With love and namaste, Deanne
For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com