“not an absence but a presence; not emptiness but repletion. Silence is something more than just a pause;
it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and the horizon itself expands…
In silence, we often say, we can hear ourselves think; but what is truer to say is that in silence we can hear ourselves not think, and so sink below our selves into a place far deeper than mere thought allows. In silence, we might better say, we can hear someone else think.
Or simply breathe.
For silence is responsiveness, and in silence we can listen to something behind the clamor of the world.
“A man who loves God, necessarily loves silence,” wrote Thomas Merton, who was, as a Trappist, a connoisseur, a caretaker of silences.
It is no coincidence that places of worship are places of silence: if idleness is the devil’s playground, silence may be the angels’.
So it is that we might almost say silence is the tribute we pay to holiness; we slip off words when we enter a sacred space, just as we slip off shoes.
A “moment of silence” is the highest honor we can pay someone; it is the point at which the mind stops and something else takes over (words run out when feelings rush in).
A “vow of silence” is for holy men the highest devotional act. We hold our breath, we hold our words; we suspend our chattering selves and let ourselves “fall silent,” and fall into the highest place of all.
In silence, suddenly, it seems as if all the windows of the world are thrown open and everything is as clear as on a morning after rain. Silence, ideally, hums. It charges the air.
We all know how treacherous are words, and how often we use them to paper over embarrassment, or emptiness, or fear of the larger spaces that silence brings.
“Words, words, words” commit us to positions we do not really hold, the imperatives of chatter; words are what we use for lies, false promises and gossip. We babble with strangers; with intimates we can be silent. We “make conversation” when we are at a loss; we unmake it when we are alone, or with those so close to us that we can afford to be alone with them.
In love, we are speechless; in awe, we say, words fail us.
Extract from Pico Iyer The Eloquent Sounds of Silence from TIME magazine.
Short Guided Silent Practice
Looking forward to sharing more with you tomorrow…
This blog was written by Joanne O’Malley, Mindfulness at Work.
We offer Workplace Mindfulness Training that transforms peoples’ work and their lives.