On our initial camping trip to the mountains, which was several years ago, I heard it for the very first time. Complete silence. I always thought I knew what silence was until that trip.
I have spent time in silence, away from the hustle and bustle of modernity many times. It was a silence from the distractions of everyday life, but there was always some other noise. Birds chirping, wind rustling the leaves, the wind itself, traffic in the distance, insects doing their thing, rain falling, the buzz of electricity - there was always some form of noise that accompanied me, even in my silence.
It was September and we were in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, camping above 10,000 feet on that trip. We were the only people around. After we got used to the altitude (which is another story, itself) and had our dinner, we sat in a silence that was deafening.
There were no other people.
There were no animals or insects of any kind making noise.
There was no wind.
There were no electrical lines overhead. Every inhale and exhale of breath seemed so loud.
I thought I knew what silence was until I heard absolutely nothing.
I have heard absolute silence several times since then and I am captivated and in awe every time I experience it.
There is a great number of people in this day and age who have a strong aversion to silence. Silence is not only turning off the tv or the music or our phones. Silence is also not distracting ourselves with our own thoughts.
When we are distracted, things go unnoticed. When things go unnoticed they will also go unquestioned. If it goes unquestioned then how is it being answered?
We are so accustomed to noise that silence doesn't even seem natural. We fall into the all too comfortable trap of being around others or having something turned on and making noise just to avoid the silence.
I don't believe that people are afraid of silence, but they're afraid of the possible noises, the thoughts, that may break the silence. I think that the strength it takes to choose to be alone in silence is incredibly underrated.
To a culture of noise and urgency, which thrives on stress, silence and stillness come across as a weakness.
Silence is not the absence of sound, it is a sound and like all sounds, it coincides with a feeling.
Sit in the stillness.
Sit in the silence.
That pain, that discomfort that you feel when it's quiet and you are still…
That's just your fear.
It's the fear of facing yourself. It's avoiding the feelings.
Feelings of not being enough, of shame, vulnerability, rejection, and all manner of insecurities.
But it's only uncomfortable because it's unfamiliar.
In the silence we begin to understand ourselves until one day we are no longer a stranger in our own lives.
In the silence it may be recognized that the "YOU" that you present to the world isn't the real "YOU".
In the silence we realize that it's not about finding anything, it's about becoming.
Sitting in silence with ourselves is like sitting out in the woods all alone as the sun goes down, or camping in the mountains without a single noise, as we did. We may hear things breaking the silence that we're unsure of, things that aren't familiar.
Do we fear it?
Do we ignore it and hope it goes away?
Or do we look into what it is and where it came from?
Be quiet and listen to yourself. Listen to who you are, not who you wish you were or who you THINK you are. Be honest with yourself. Listen to the real you. The real you is seen and heard in the stillness and the silence of the mind.
Silence is a very revealing sound, it may also be the most ignored.
Silence is in the space between other sounds. Listen for it.
Silence is not empty.
Silence is viewed simply as an absence of noise but silence is a resource; it's information.
In the silence the truth is loud.
We can only hear the silence when we stop.
In the silence we open up to ourselves and we face ourselves - if we choose to.
It's a choice.
It's always a choice.
"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." - Blaise Pascal
Pic by Grant Krasner