Gift of Silence

How do you feel in silence? Is it uncomfortable? Do you fill the space with distractions?

Do you find yourself reacting to things automatically (unconsciously) or thoughtfully/mindfully?

Do you feel a strong connection to your true self aka who you really are as a person?

Silence is not our norm. It could even be seen in a negative light. Think of a timeout for a child or giving someone the silent treatment if you are mad at them. Our typical reaction is to avoid it or drown out the silence.

What if instead, we saw silence as a gift, an opportunity, a freedom.

Silence is the key to an inward journey to self. When we tune out everything else, it is only then that we can realize our true feelings of the heart and can mentally evaluate a situation clearly. This space of taking time to think is powerful. It can lead to a healthier and more appropriate response.

I like to think of silence as a “fitness” for the heart and the mind. Strengthening your feelings/emotions and thoughts. Just like any “muscle”, the more you work on it, the stronger it becomes. Practicing the skill of listening completely to how you feel and what you really want. Both knowing and understanding your true self. Take a reading of your internal weather. Knowing how to move forward in an authentic way. It can be thought of as practicing mindfulness.

Do you need to be in a quiet room to do this? No, but that comes after you have a strong practice. When beginning, it helps to be in as quiet of a room as possible. All electronic devices turned off.

Here is both a yoga term and also a visual guide to help frame this better.

There is a Sanskrit term in yoga for this called Pratyahara. The withdrawal of the senses. This is the journey into the inner world, away from loud noises, to do lists, visual distractions, your daily life pace. The attention/focus is then tuned inward.

Image of a snow globe. Any stimulus from any of your senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, touch) shakes the globe a little bit. The snow swirls around and floats like a flurry in the globe. When the snow is moving around, we cannot see the center. The distractions continue the snow moving around. Only when we set down the snow globe, give it some time, the snow settles to the bottom. Revealing the image in the middle, aka our self or our internal world.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor Frankl

Yoga has an element of this inward journey (aka finally seeing ourselves in the center of the snow globe) if we spend the silent time in practice. One way I suggest is a calming quiet practice where you hold a pose for a longer duration of time. Examples include yin, restorative, savasana and meditation. These are methods for us to set the snow globe down on the table. Spending at least 10 minutes to let the snow settle at the bottom. Then see when is in the center of your globe.

Try doing nothing and see what happens. You might even enjoy it!

Don’t just do something, sit there.

Thich Nhat Hanh

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