Wednesday, August 03, 2005

the sound of silence

several weeks ago i wrote, “i am being called to greater stillness...and fewer things...and more quiet.”

while i was absent from writing i remembered those words and began to pursue a place of quiescence.

i turned off the television.

i turned off the surround-sound cd stereo.

i turned off the radio even in my car.

i turned time alone into time of silence. how very different from my customary world of constant commotion.

i began to limit the number of things around me. i created space around my events.

i stopped constant excitation--sugar and chocolates and coffees (even decaffeinated ones) and various stimulations.

at first it was unfamiliar and disconcerting. i felt noticeably alone. but as i allowed silence to settle around me, my world began to transform. i had no idea how noise and other stimulants had interrupted and altered my body's natural rhythm, confused my knowing when to sleep and how long and when to eat and how much.

initially i found it challenging when business obligations demanded long hours and i refused to use anything artificial to keep up my pace. no chocolates to stimulate and no coffees or colas. i didn't even use music to stir or alter my energy, and i struggled to manage a bloated calendar without artificial means. how do i pull an all-nighter without something to keep me going? but as i pursued my new practice my energy began to level out and i was further quieted by not having to "use" to compensate for having "used." too much stimulation leads to trouble sleeping, and using something to sleep (even non-prescription) leads to the need to stimulate. this becomes a very slippery slope and its acceptance makes the problem invisible.

i actually started this practice long before i wrote the words in my blog (writing them from the call to pursue deeper quiet than i was already experiencing). for several years i frequently used benadryl to help me sleep but you know, for the life of me, i cannot remember the last time i even had it in the house. my new practices have been making a difference.

constant food and drink stimulation had been one kind of noise but now i was called to greater silence around me, not only within me. i turned off music and television to discover more quietude. no more voices to fill the silence in my empty house. this felt different, strange and unnerving. in my home it was just me, fumbling around in the quiet. at first i thought the silence made me feel alone. but as i began to acclimate to the silence it seemed to me it was not the feeling of being alone that was so strange to me but it was the feeling of my own presence. i had thought the hugeness of silence made one feel small but i discovered it is noise that makes one small and even lost. silence affords one the opportunity to discover her own being. i began to hear my own voice. hearing my own voice is the most solid ground i have known. i love my own becoming.

as i felt called to "greater stillness...and fewer things...and more quiet” i began to find more than the awareness of my own being and the sound of my own voice. deeper still i found a Presence in the silence, something more than merely the absence of sound. silence became not emptiness but fullness, a wealth usually displaced by noise. this silence and its Presence became a place of healing for me, a place of refuge, a place of restoration. of course, one can be surrounded by silence and never notice (having noise inside)...for fully experiencing silence means actually stepping into it.

my tendency toward noise became my tool. every time i felt the urge to turn on the music (sometimes reaching for it almost unconsciously) i used that urge to take a moment to step into the silence, if only for a fraction of a minute. again and again and again during my day my habit to reach for the dial meant another conscious moment of stepping into the silence. my habit toward noise became my incredible awareness of the silence.

i live in a world filled with noise--tools and construction, advertising and branding, billboards and bumper stickers, conversations and confusion, foods and smells--but as often as i am able and in increasing amounts, i go to my place of refuge and find myself in the silence...

No comments: