Try Listening to Silence
May 31, 2014
Noise, noise, noise-it seems to be everywhere! Crowded spaces, loud televisions, phones ringing, speakers always playing bad music at the mall... (They remind me of Edgar Allen Poe's poem, The Bells
.) Many times when I come home I feel very tired and overstimulated and sitting in front of a blaring television is perhaps not the best idea, so I'll put on some light music and relax by doing some crafting.
(One of my latest-I'm working on a book of colorful DBT skill cards)
But what about total silence? Many people are afraid of it. In Alanis Morisette's 90s song, "All I Really Want," she sings,
Why are you so petrified of silence? Here can you handle this? Did you think about your bills, you ex, your deadlines Or when you think you're gonna die? Or did you long for the next distraction?
I went on a short vacation a few weeks ago to see a cousin get married and my parents and I stayed in a beautiful old mansion. I took some ridiculously cute pictures of Canadian geese and their goslings while on a walk:
I also had a room to myself and to my surprise I found that I loved being in my room without the lights and the television on. After being with people all day, the silence and darkness was as comforting as a womb.
Fast forward to a few days ago-I attended a gentle yoga and meditation class and we meditated for ten minutes in total silence...and I loved it. In a world so afraid of silence and so full of noise, it is easy to forget how healing silence can really be! Being mindful in silence, as opposed to letting your mind run wild with worry, can be incredibly healing. I do this by repeating the mantra, "let go," in my head until my mind really has let go of all of my anxiety and stress.
We are a nation terrified of silence and our consumerist culture certainly wants to support that fear. What would happen if we started embracing silence? Then perhaps we would become more satisfied with ourselves and have less need of material goods to provide external comfort. Perhaps we would find that we could comfort ourselves without going into deep debt. I am reading an insightful book right now called, Genesis and the Rise of Civilization by J. Snodgrass
, and it posits that the way of Jesus and the Bible is not about being one with civilization, but about moving away from being influenced by society-the power is in the rebel outliers rather than in the ones who try to fit in. Jesus had a spiritual practice of going alone to pray-similarly, anyone, even those who are not religious, can develop a practice of meditating in silence in order to become more attune to what is most important to them and to finding inner peace.
Shalom silence-hello friend! May I welcome you more often into my life...
To paraphrase the great John Oliver, listen up, fellow self-pitying nerd boys—we are not the victims here. We are not the underdogs. We are not the ones who have our ownership over our bodies and our emotions stepped on constantly by other people’s entitlement. We’re not the ones where one out of six of us will have someone violently attempt to take control of our bodies in our lifetimes.
The greatest gift of love is the gesture of open arms -- let come what comes -- not because you don't care, or because you hope to steel yourself against pain, but because you care so much that you are helpless to do anything else. And you accept the cost, the inevitable blow to the heart.