The Sound of Silence Clia Tierney, MA
Updated: May 11, 2019
I find myself surrounded by noise. Not just the obvious noise created by my family, friends, pets, cars, electronics, technology and the sounds of urban life, but by the very loud noise inside my head. There is almost constant chatter going on in my mind that is internally cataloging, planning, judging, comparing and creating. Often, much of my day is spent unaware of this internal noise. And, yet, it has the power to drown out everything. Does this sound familiar? I become most aware of this noise when I sit in meditation. Sometimes I am unable to shut it off, but at least meditation allows me to become aware of it.
Getting quiet in today’s world is a challenge. A challenge, I would argue, that is well worth the effort. In our busy, high-stress world, we ignore the language of silence. It is a language we all need to relearn. When we are able to become quiet and find silence and stillness, we can find the space inside ourselves to open ourselves up to new possibilities. These opportunities are bountiful: connection to our self, connection to other people, self-compassion and empathy for others, true listening, hearing the sounds of life around us, and finding space from which to be in the world mindfully. Essentially, sitting in silence allows us to be truly in the moment. Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist and author, writes, “Silence is essential. We need silence just as much as we need air, just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts, there is no space for us.” According to Hanh, silence allows us to live more authentically and deeply. Silence allows us to just BE and by doing so, that will be ENOUGH. We need quiet to find that peaceful and content place inside ourselves that exists for each of us. When we become silent, we become present. Chances are that we each have a practice that allows this but we may not have noticed the soul space it provides for us. Some of us are able to be silent in nature. We can step outside our home, take a deep breath, smell the air, take in the sights and sounds around us, feel the temperature and BE in the moment. If this is true for you, continue the practice and perhaps extend the amount of time before you rush into your day. Many of us may sit outside and feel peaceful. We garden or open the windows in our home. Try this in silence.
Some of us find silence and the break from internal noise through movement. We go for a walk or a run and are able to tap into a rhythm that promotes awareness of our senses or some spacious quality inside our bodies. If you have this practice already, see if you can be more intentional about the awareness of silence. If you do not move regularly, try going for a walk for a few minutes and see if you can focus on your breath or the sights and sounds around you instead of rehearsing a to-do list in your head. I often find silence through the practice of yin yoga. This practice involves holding poses for a very long time (three to five minutes per side), creating discomfort by finding your physical edge in the pose, and then becoming still. There are so many physical and energetic benefits to yin yoga, however one tremendous benefit, both mentally and emotionally, is its ability to allow the stillness that brings a silence to internal chatter. Through physical stillness and focus on the breath, we can drop into a silent place and come home to ourselves.
Try reconnecting to yourself, and therefore to the world, by spending part of today in silence. Just a few moments will make a difference. You can do this by finding a space in your home or workplace where you can shut down all of your senses and just be for a few moments. You can also try this while going from place to place, using the moving meditation practice, below.
Silent Awareness Practice
Find a quiet place.
Be still (standing or sitting) and close your eyes.
Focus on your breathing.
Notice silence by quieting your breath and listening for nothing.
See if you can experience this silence in your body—notice how this feels.
See if you can return to this embodied feeling of quiet when you are surrounded by any kind of noise.
Moving Meditation in Silence
Walk slowly and purposefully with your gaze looking downward.
Silently say something you are thankful for every time you take a step.
Eckhart Tolle advises, “When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.” May your new year be filled with the sound of silence.
Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh. www.amazon.com/Silence-Power-Quiet-World-Noise/dp/0062224700
Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle. www.amazon.com/Stillness-Speaks-Eckhart-Tolle/dp/8188479462
Insight Timer app: insighttimer.com/
Clia Tierney, MA
The owner of Asante Wellness Coaching, Clia Tierney helps women move past "stuck" into possibility. She coaches people to overcome obstacles and obtain clarity about their goals. Through the process, personal transformation takes place, resulting in greater well-being, life balance and fulfillment.
Clia's professional background and life experiences as a teacher, educational therapist, yogi, wife, mother of teenagers, daughter and sister have fueled her passion for helping women of all ages identify and reduce their stress and struggle so that they can discover their purpose and confidently move forward.
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