Thursday, January 16, 2014

Silence: Friend or Foe?

After recently returning from a retreat where silence was my daily companion, I am reminded of how silence can simultaneously be both challenging and wonderfully restorative. The most challenging aspect for me is eliminating the use of technology as a means of communication, working and information gathering. The first day of retreat is usually filled with seemingly non-stop internal noise and a profound desire to phone someone and/or check my email, text or internet for some form of news.  Then, over the course of a few days, silence creeps in slowly and elegantly like an old familiar friend and time takes on a different quality. It’s impossible for me to adequately describe what this feels like. My intention every year when I return from my retreat is to integrate a day of silence into every week. Some weeks I am successful with regard to this intention and other weeks I am not. What I have found though is that the weeks that I invest in a day or even a half-day of silence are followed by an increase in creativity, resourcefulness, connection with others, patience and a simultaneous sense of high energy and calmness. I find that I am able to be more fully present to others and to myself.

Think about it. How much of your day is taken up with any form of technology and non-essential noise? What would it be like for you to have a whole day in front of you without the use of your phone, internet, iProducts, computer, notebook, tablet and/or any form of human conversation? What would it be like for you to exercise, walk down the street or be at home without falling back on the use of any form of technology or external conversation? What you would most likely have is a lot of internal space, coupled with a whole lot of internal dialogue. For some, a brief visit into the world of silence might sound wonderful and for some it may, given family and work responsibilities, feel impossible.

If the thought of a period of silence – however brief - feels even a tad seductive, I invite you to start out at the level that does feel possible given where you currently are in your life. Give yourself permission to start out gradually – perhaps a half a day, an hour, a half-hour or even fifteen minutes. Try it out at the pace that works for you. Notice how your relationship to your internal and external world gradually shifts in a delightfully surprising manner.


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