What are the gifts of silence? How will you benefit if you take time to abide in stillness? Why do we avoid silence? How can we integrate quiet reflection into our busy daily lives?
In silence, when we unhook from the chattering mind, we gain access to the source of our Being, the underlying spaciousness that is beyond thought, beyond the conditioned self. We discover a deep inner peace that, we realize, is always there and has always been there. It is not changing and never has changed. The more we turn inward for fulfillment and a sense of security, the happier we are. We know, and life keeps teaching us, that happiness cannot be found in the world of impermanence, of ever-changing forms. It can be found, though, in the eternal silence which is always present, which does not come and go. It is we who come and go, dipping into and out of this peaceful pool at the core of our Being. The pool is always there. How often we avail ourselves of its richness is up to us.
Inner silence is a fertile ground for wisdom. The soul speaks its truth to us when we turn in its direction. We hear, sense or see the innate wisdom that lies below the surface of conscious awareness. When we align with this knowing and make choices based on these insights, our lives work more efficiently and we’re ‘on the beam’ more often than not. No longer are our decisions and behaviors based on fear or conditioned thinking. As Tibetan teacher, Mingyur Rinpoche says, “Crazy minds lead to crazy actions.” Clear, insightful minds lead to clear, insightful actions.
It does take intention, practice and remembering to cultivate this relationship to our deep nature. Because the conditioning is strong to focus on externals and to return to habitual ways of thinking and acting, we have to repeatedly choose to say no to distractions and no to the belief that we don’t have time for this inner reflection. You can take short or long silent breaks at least once or twice a day, choosing, for example to go for a walk alone at lunch, sit and gaze out the window at the sky or listen to the rain. Once you commit to having silence be an integral part of your life, you’ll be surprised at how many blocks of time open up for you that you couldn’t see before. The stronger your connection to silence, the less you will need to go off by yourself to tap into this steam, although it’s wonderful to have periods of solitude when you desire. You become anchored in the timeless dimension of your life and discover that even in the midst of a project at work, emails or in conversation with friends, the silence is always there.
People ask me how I manage all of my professional tasks, family commitments, spending time with friends, volunteer activities and still have the amount of alone time that I do. It’s because I make a priority of time for self care, which, for me, includes many periods of silence. Years ago I realized that if I took enough time for inner nourishment, I was more present and focused with every task, activity and interaction. I had increased energy, was less reactive to upsets and could accomplish more. In the busiest of times now, I take even more quiet time than usual.
Some people resist silence because they’re afraid of the feelings that may emerge when they slow down. They are afraid, perhaps, of an underlying loneliness or grief they may touch into. That may happen. Excessive busyness is often a defense against feeling. Feeling, though, means we’re alive, truly connected to ourselves. We also confront questions that challenge our sense of identity. Who am I really? Am I the mental constructs I’ve taken myself to be? Who is this ‘me’ I have believed I am? Is there really a separate me? If these questions arise, see if you can stay with the questions without needing an answer. Notice what it’s like to just be with the mind’s questions and sit in the Mystery. Silence brings us into an intimate encounter with ourselves, sometimes delightful, other times disconcerting. Even when uncomfortable, though, we come to discover the fulfillment of being in a more authentic relationship with ourselves and all of life.
I invite you to take a moment of silence…………….