What a scarce commodity is silence in today's world. It is seldom that we take a moment just to sense silence around us in the midst of bustling noise.
Le Silence de Dieu: A Special Moment
I sometimes wonder if today's folks ever know the peace of an evening with only the loon singing to a cricket chorus. Or, the silence of the early morning just before the birds celebrate the sun's return with the matinal symphony. Moments of absolute silence, as nature holds its breath.
And in seconds, the cell phones shrill staccato invades and the gifted silence is shattered in thin shards. Even in the wee hours of the morning, television and blasting music compete to get our attention. Inside us is a mesh mash of noise that we can no longer even hear. What a loss this is especially for our own health and spirit.
Silence Nature Affords Us
Can we still drink in the silence nature affords us? Le silence de Dieu. Maybe, if we journey to far, remote places in the forests and lakes of the North. But as long as civilization has touched it, there will surely be the jungle of media commanding us and beating our senses with even the sun betraying us in recharging the batteries. This is the world gone mad.
Where Can We Escape To and Find Silence?
When the desire is there, you will find the right place for you. How are we managing? Have we thought of finding some solace in the Trappist silence of monasteries? Where can we escape to? Our weary souls seem unable to do that. We start fiddling for those phones and net books. We find ourselves empty without our ipads, androids, iphones or blackberries. How did we get into a mess like this?
Some Time to Just Be
Once in a while we collapse. We have had enough of the frenzied whirlwind of sound and light and fireworks. We hide under our duvets, insulated from the world to recuperate. This is what one grandchild loves to do and she emerges from the coccoon when she is re-balanced, to face the world once again. It's a short term bear like hibernation!
Hmmmmmmm, maybe we're looking in the wrong place for wisdom. They know what they need. They want to be left alone, dreaming whatever bears dream of, salmon and blueberries and visioning their own future or, maybe not. They just want to burrow and hide and not think of anything.
There is an attraction to this that is almost instinctive to some humans. Deep down, we seek this. We seek some place or some time just to BE.
Moments of Silence are meant to be Mindful
I first heard of Mindfulness from a friend who has visited The Plum Village of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese monk who founded this place dedicated to mindfulness. From then on, I tried to practice this whenever I can. Here is his book that outlines a path to Mindfulness in your everyday life. This is one of the best things you can give yourself.
How to Have Moments of Silence
1. Visit a monastery.
Listen to the chanting of the monks or just enjoy the grand silence they have embraced for themselves, the trappist silence as many call it.
Yes, I used to go to a Trappist Monastery and spent the day there just being silent and communing with silence.
I know some of you maybe saying, I can't do that. I'll go crazy. But you know what? Try it sometimes. It is very refreshing. The spirit seems to take over once again and out some depth into our lives.
2. Free your weekend.
Go to the beach or maybe just a hotel room in total isolated luxury. Bury yourself in a book with only your thoughts as friends.
3. Take a walk along the river.
There is a mystique to watching boats slowly move along the river. It has a calming rhythm as if following a lullaby with the breeze as its conductor.
You watch people from far away, talking silent words to the wind, listening to the music of the zither. You become inhaled into the stream as you watch in the same rhythm.
You lose yourself. You become part of life, life that today's world no longer hear. You can get lost in this and find a marvellous peace amidst the noise and confusion. Try it sometimes.
4. Once in a while, take the other road.
Park and count the clouds. And many of these "treatments" are free and simple. The first reaction to a need for silence is often to make more noise. Yes, play that CD and drown it. Or, go out and party.
Or, go to the mall and engage in retail therapy. We do need these once in a while or we become way too distanced from the world.
But once in a while, take the other road. Go to a monastery, sit in a church and measure the ceiling, walk along the riverside, kayak on the lake, lie down in a quiet nook in the park and count clouds or spend a weekend at the beach. You owe it to yourself no matter how busy you are. There is a massive difference between being alone and loneliness.
5. Take Snippets of Time to Feed the Spirit
If a monastery is far from where you are, just go to a park and commune with the trees and flowers.
Find a quiet nook and spread your mat and just close your eyes and listen to nature. You will be astonished as to what you hear. It also sharpens your listening sense. Let your mind go quiet and your body relax so you can sense the sound of nature and enjoy it.
Once in a while, this is so regenerative. You don't have to stay long, just enough to sooth your battered spirit.
In our world, noise abounds and shatters our senses. Don't you sometimes find yourself no longer hearing anything? But if you take some snippets of time to feed the spirit and give it the respite it needs, you'll find yourself taking on the world with greater health and joy.
It is not enough that we gift yourselves the moment of silence. This is just the first step. The aim is to be in the center of silence in your own inner self. Being centered in that silence, you can go through life's noise with ease and peace. Meditation is a big help for me in managing the noise pollution we are in now. I hope this works for you, too.
Sometimes, silence has to be broken
There are times when we keep our silence in the midst of injustice. We are afraid to speak out. We keep mum and pretend nothing is happening. In this case, silence is not life giving. It needs to be broken and be set free to lend its voice to those who have lost it or who never had it.
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