Silence is Golden
By Jan Golden
I love silence. On the way to my writing group this morning I turned on the car radio—then turned it right back off. I wanted just my own company.
My parents preferred silence, too. Or my father did when he got home from work. Mother deferred to Dad even though she was ready to talk. Her work at the telephone company, required silence.
When I had my own family we rarely had a silent moment in our house, lots of children and activity, my voice in the foreground directing the action. My career called for me to talk, talk, and talk. I think like many women who are too busy to have an inner life, I felt obligated to fill up space with conversation.
The family grown, I had my first opportunity to go on a spiritual retreat. I found the silence odd at first. Meditation, contemplation and silent meals were foreign to me. How could we sit around a dinner table with a group of people and not make polite conversation? I found it hard to look at the others at the table without talking and mostly stared at my plate or out the window.
After a while what I discovered was a decrease in the speed of my thoughts, then a slowing of my pulse and heartbeat, a calming of the chaotic energy that normally swirled around me, strange…but beautiful like discovering a small spring in the forest, dipping fingers in the cool gurgling water. Time stopped. Quiet. Reflection.
The stress of our fast moving lives and the barrage of information coming at us, like hail in a raging storm, can keep our hearts racing. It takes first, notice then commitment, to find the quiet within ourselves.
Last evening a friend and I spent time on a writing project: we were on a roll, tuned in and turned on, with the excitement of our creation. Later she admitted to me that she always feels like she is in a race—so much to see, to learn, to discover. She can’t escape multi-tasking; she doesn’t get the satisfaction of completing anything, and feels like the man in the burlesque show spinning plates on a stick—the next plate always coming at him.
Because of those days at the retreat and my chance to learn the value of the quieting of the self, I was able to lead her through a visualization that stopped her racing mind. She told me about a visit to Ireland, sitting on the green, green grass, looking out at the sea, and a feeling of calmness like she’d never known came over her. This was her special place! After a relaxation technique, I led her back there … feel the lush green grass under you, let your roots go own deeply into mother earth, smell the dampness and the salty sea. Listen, gulls are calling to one another in the distance. Do you hear them? A few minutes later she told me, “It was like I had never left that quiet spot in Ireland.”
Whenever we take time to stop, to go to a place that evokes feelings of quiet, peacefulness and solitude, we receive a healing—our body doesn’t distinguish whether the experience is real or imagined –it just takes in the healing of the silence.
My experience at the retreat years ago has helped me find my inner quiet and last night my friend found hers.
I believe in silence.