The Power of Silence
Silence can be deeply desired and profoundly terrifying at the same time. Silence opens up a space where you can meet yourself and another human being without words, without overthinking. It’s increasingly more difficult to find silence. Every public space is dominated by noise, whether it is radio, TV, cell phones, or conversations. The noise is tiring and causes a lot of unnecessary stress. Silence is our natural state but as we are constantly stimulated by all kinds of noise we are losing the ability to function in it. Silence becomes something to fear and we can’t even imagine being quiet for a few minutes, let alone hours. When we are confronted with silence, our first reaction is rejection — “Oh, I could never be quiet for longer than 5 minutes’ — then fear and discomfort increase in our bodies because we feel that something is taken away from us. We feel silence is the absence of something: the absence of noise, the absence of external stimulation, the absence of distraction — all of which have become the foundation of our existence, and how we think about ourselves. We fear that silence will remove what’s known and familiar and we will be left facing ‘nothing’. In fact, silence offers us abundant opportunities, opening our senses to the richness of life and inviting us to look inside, to reflect on what we feel at a given moment in relation to ourselves, other people, and situations. We don’t always like what we see. It can be uncomfortable to look inside because silence is an ally of truth.
Silence is an essential answer to the basic questions: Who am I? What do I need? What is important to me? Silence is rich and loud. There is no emptiness in silence but plenty of emotions, memories, desires, ideas. In silence we have the opportunity to see the waterfall of mental activity, it is constantly changing, flowing, and moving. Silence offers an insight into how the mind works, what it creates, and how it impacts our relationship with ourselves, others, and the world around us. In silence, we are able to uncover our habitual patterns and limiting beliefs. Being silent is like flying a spaceship. During the take-off, a lot of energy is used to break through the layer of clouds and atmosphere in order to enter the boundless space, rising above it all. Silence allows us to transcend, we watch our thoughts like an astronaut watches space. Below, there is a thin but hard-to-see-through layer, above the infinite and peaceful space. The effect of a longer meditation practice is the ability to be with everything that surrounds us as it is. We practice so that we honor everything that is around us: sounds, other people, various life situations. We dissolve our resistance towards life. Practicing silence is like the slow wiping of a dusty mirror. We begin to see clearer, to see more. And even if this clear mirror shows us very ugly pictures, we will begin to react with more acceptance, understanding, and compassion, improving our ability to face emotional trauma and act if there is something we can do about it.
But I admit: silence is for the brave. It is for those who are not afraid of solitude. Silence proves to be more of a challenge than we might imagine. We feel uncomfortable when we suddenly become the object of our own attention. We are used to judging, expressing opinions, discussing important and unimportant matters, checking our phones, or watching TV. Without it, we suddenly feel as if someone has gagged us.
However, it soon turns out that words are only an excuse for a long-delayed meeting with yourself. When we are silent, we begin to hear a quiet voice that often destroys our ideas or opinions about ourselves. Silence allows us to reach those layers of ourselves that demand attention and want to be exposed. Silence releases the content hidden deep in the subconscious — trauma, suppressed needs, and emotions, unfulfilled desires. And what we hear in silence, we will not always like. However, the opportunity to look inside yourself is an invaluable experience that pays off in everyday life on many levels. From the feeling of deep relaxation and regeneration of the nervous system to expanding self-awareness, regaining inner joy and harmony, establishing contact with yourself, and changing our perspective — the more we immerse ourselves in silence, the more we notice that the mind is still talking, but its words have no longer power over us. We learn to treat our thoughts with a certain distance, we get to know ourselves better and we know how to be alone with ourselves. Silence brings peace and wisdom and helps you find support and joy within yourself. Sometimes it is worth just being silent… In silence, we begin to touch on what is essential. Silence creates a space to see yourself first, and then other people, and the whole world without distortion, with more clarity. You cannot overdose on silence, everyone can endure it, although for some it is difficult. Silence — where to find it? It’s a good idea to start with a 5-minute morning or evening meditation or ask yourself every now and then the following questions: What am I thinking about now? What do I feel? What’s happening to me now? These are the stop signs that help to draw attention to ourselves, to find out where we are. Before you go on a silent retreat for a few days, it is ideal to prepare yourself by finding moments in your daily life when you can consciously cut yourself off from any distractions: turn off the TV, radio, telephone, computer; for an hour, half a day, a day, or maybe an entire weekend. This is how we become accustomed to silence and its richness.