The Power of Silence

It’s a Monday morning, partly cloudy and I’m sitting, drinking nettle tea and staring out the window. I see orange, green, gold and magenta leaves gently cascading down on a line of antique homes and the sound of cars a whisper in the background. The clock ticks gently behind me. I am here on this chair, in these clothes, right now. I can feel my heartbeat and I am one with my breath.

There is no time, there is only now.

It is difficult to describe the feeling of complete quiet-the state of mind where there is no separation between the dancer and the dance or the singer and the song. When you are lying on your back facing the stars you may just forget who you think you are and remember that you are a part of the sky, and the sky is part of you and you may feel that serenity, peace and joy of being alive.

Many wise words have been spoken on the value of silence. Jesus rebukes waves that threaten to overturn his disciples’ boat with “Peace, be still”. The Bible also describes the fruits of the spirit (uncluttered by thoughts, motivations, desires) as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” Lao Tzu says in the Tao te Ching “Empty your mind of all thoughts, let your heart be at peace. Watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return”. Ohiyesa, from the Wahpeton Santee Sioux said “Silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind and spirit. The man who preserves his selfhood is ever calm and unshaken by the storms of existence…What are the fruits of silence? They are self-control, true courage or endurance, patience, dignity and reverence. Silence is the cornerstone of character”. The Koran says in regard to Ramadan, “Wash your hands. Wash your face. Do not eat or speak as you normally do. Other food and other words will come in the silence”.

Animals, and small children seem to have this gift of inner silence and are able of unbridled joy and contentment in the most simple things- piece of paper, the paw of a kitten, a newly blooming dandelion, a genuine smile. So what happens to us along the way that clouds our faith, serenity and robs us of our joy?

I believe that in life, we learn things along the way-things that weren’t necessarily true-about ourselves, each other and the world. These things cloud our vision and block our joy. The more blocked our vision, the more mentally ill we become, the more complicated the maze becomes back to our true selves.

If there was one piece of advice I could give you to help yourself out if you are unhappy, depressed, anxious, jaded, have a low self-esteem, or are otherwise troubled, it would be this.

If you want to have a healthier mind, use it less. Forget who you think you are, who others think you are, where you’ve been or where you think you are going. Make room for your true self to emerge by being right here, right now” (October 11, 2010).

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