Is there such a thing as true silence? Incarnate in the world, probably not. In the most secluded, pristine corner of nature there are sounds, as pleasant as they may be. In deepest meditation, we may still hear our breath or bloodstream. Life pulses and makes sounds. Worse is all the noise of machines and technology. Even worse is the noise pollution we’re bombarded with from media, and the noise that’s in our own head.
This doesn’t mean silence has no value or we shouldn’t aspire to it. Silence is a remarkable counterbalance, one that’s vital for us to cultivate with the understanding that silence doesn’t have to be ‘silent’ to be effective and life restoring. Silence is really an orientation. It’s an inner hub, and flows through all activity, engagement and stillness as long as it’s cultivated.
The problem with the various kinds of noise we have to contend with around the clock is that they separate us from what is whole, true and beautiful in us. Noise keeps us off kilter. It doesn’t allow our naturalness to be, to inform our life. Noise pushes us to keep doing more. Not in a healthy, creative and productive way, but for the sake of doing alone. We do and do until we no longer are, until we walk away from ourselves.
There are many ways silence can touch us. Reading a book is one, especially if it’s poetry like haiku or some other short form. Sitting in nature without any objective. Taking a bath. Listening to quality, inspirational music. Yes, listening. Mindfully. Listening to your own heart. Not it’s beat, although that’s affirming too, but listening to its guidance and perspective. Preparing a meal, consciously, slow food style. Eating consciously, without too much talking. Sleeping in a hammock.
Meditation is of course a primary way to touch silence. Here we notice how unquiet the mind is. It’s constantly churning. Churning and churning, to what effect?
The mind can be quieted. Everything we have at our disposal to lessen the noise is useful. We have to fins ways to be the silence. Otherwise the noise swallows us up and we can’t hear ourselves, each other, life, or the numinous and the mystery. We have to be able to hear the mystery, for as Lewis Hyde says, “The passage into mystery always refreshes.”
Find the hub of silence within that refreshes.
There is an inner silence and an outer silence and a silence that transcends inner and outer, a silence of the breath and a silence of the body, a silence in the absence of words and a silence when the world is quiet, a silence where there is no sound and a silence that can be heard, and there is a silence that is a passage to emptiness, a silence of the mind in which there is no thought. There is a silence which is a response, a silence which is a truer witness than words.
— Ralph Davis
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