The Power of Silence
Are you are feeling irritable? Are you snapping all the time? Then try a practice of silence. A practice of tuning into silence can calm our inner world and make us less reactive. Learn about the power of silence and how you can develop a practice of silence today.
Now I’m not advocating that we all pack up shop and go on a Vipasana retreat (a silent Yoga retreat), however I have experienced the power of silence. In 2017 when I had a vocal haemorrhage and needed laser surgery, I had to be silent for 5 days post surgery. This was difficult because I am a real chatter box. But what I learnt from the practice of silence was a real game changer.
What I learnt from being
I found that as the days went along I began to let go of things quicker because I was unable to react verbally to events. So I only ever had the choice to (literally) write an essay, enter into an intense game of charades, or let it go. Although writing an essay or entering into a game of charades sounds fun, after the third page of text or fifteenth action that the other person has not understood, you realise letting go is a much simpler solution. So much so that letting go of the small stuff becomes a habit. Not reacting by verbalising straight away and having to give it space meant that I was able to see if was significant or not. This made me think about how much energy and time we waste on insignificant thoughts or insignificant words.
Why are we uncomfortable
These days there is so much noise pollution that we have become accustomed to always hearing something that it seems we have become almost fearful of silence or moments of quietness. Isn’t it funny that when you become great friends with someone you can have long periods of silence without it being awkward. On the other hand with someone you have just met, long periods of silence might feel awkward and there is a sense of needing to fill the gaps to avoid this awkwardness. Why is this? Why have we become so accustomed to noise that silence fills us with fear?
perspective on silence
Whilst studying Cross Cultural Communication at University I learnt about a variety of cultural differences in the use of silence. One, close to home that I learnt about was the value of silence in Australian Indigenous Cultures. In Australian Indigenous Cultures silence is valued and respected. It does not represent lack of understanding or urgency as may be perceived by others, it is a way to show that you are listening, respecting who is speaking. The practice of silence therefore enables speakers to receive, process and respond in a non-reactive way. What a wonderful way to engage.
The practice of silence for
The practice of being silent or listening for silence can help to create mental space. Imagine you live in a backpacker dorm full of 50 people every day (yes, I’ve been there many times). How do you create privacy and space for yourself? The answer is silence. Choosing to be silent and choosing to tune into silence. As Ekhart Tolle says, “Paying attention to outer silence creates inner silence.”
Meditation techniques often start by focusing awareness on one thing, finding an anchor. This anchor might be the sounds around you, the silence around you, your breath, a mantra, or a body part. By paying attention to one thing we start to silence our inner voice. Many years ago when I was at my first Yoga Teacher Training, my nan passed away. So during the training I flew home for her funeral. I was picked up by my family who were shocked that I wasn’t talking much and who started yelling at me to “calm down” as my silence worried them. What they hadn’t recognised (as I had never been silent in stressful situations before) that my previous few weeks of practicing meditation daily meant I was more comfortable in silence, a better listener, and less reactive.
Holding Space for
The practice of silence also translates to holding space for someone. When someone is not feeling well, is having a breakdown, needs to vent sometimes nothing needs to be said. Sometimes just being silent and “holding space” for them is enough and desirable. That person might not need you to feed their problem by adding in your opinions and advice at that time. Simply knowing that someone is there for them if they need it and are listening is enough.
Make tuning into silence a daily practice and watch your inner peace grow. And so I will leave you with some beautiful words on the value of silence.
“Between sounds of music there are gaps of silence. Authentic music consists not of sounds, but of the gaps. Sounds come and go; those gaps remain. And music can make you aware o f those gaps more beautifully than anything else; hence I have to say that music comes next to silence.”
~ OSHO ~
If you are looking for meditations and breathwork to help silence your inner mind, head over to omunay.com and start your Free Trial today for unlimited videos in Meditation, Yoga, Dance, Pilates and InfusionFlo. Creative workouts for the mind and body by Emma Hawthorne.