I am grateful for quiet, as it often goes hand in hand with what my mother paired it with, when after ‘too much’ of 4 rambunctious children she would declare, “ I need some peace and quiet!” Outside we were sent, and though I was not seeking quietude I would find it sitting on the limb of a tree I had climbed. Amidst the leaves, feeling nearer to the clouds, not intending or thinking about anything other than the joy of being in the tree, I would feel almost as if I were the tree.
I knew it in the swing our neighbor, Mr. Mongold carved out of an old tire, hung from a high branch that made for this perfect wide expansive quality of movement, which made me feel free, light, tranquil with only the backdrop of an almost noiseless small town.
My childhood invited, encouraged, made space for this. To stop ‘constructive’ living, and do nothing but be present to, listen to ‘silence-filled’ moments.
Adulthood, on the other hand, seemed to frown upon this. It prided productive, profitable, accomplishing, which frankly I took to just fine as my natural style is more active, a completed ‘to do’ list , and usually thinking of what else needs to be done. As I strove to make a life, it was fairly easy for me to loose sight of my childhood practice of hearing the inner music of my heartbeat, my breath, my sighs, of listening to birds, the rustling of the wind, or soundless clouds.
It became apparent, however, that a ramped up externally stimulated busy life fueled by stimulants was not serving me well. I felt hollow inside. Now don’t get me wrong, I had many rich opportunities, and significant achievements. But without nourishment of my soul, I felt internal hunger.
In our revved up world, where everyday life is invaded by technology, I believe it is imperative that I defend my need for peace and quiet. In a time where I fear we have mistaken outer stimulation for spiritual intensity, I stand firm for silence. When I look around and see so many feeling so spent I, like my mother think, ‘lets all go outside and get some peace and quiet’.
For it is in the pause, the deep breath, a moment of letting go, of doing nothing ’productive’ that I shift to a deeper inner reality which I believe is the source of inspiration, solutions, self awareness, fulfillment, and tranquility.
Thus daily, I stop. Stop everything I am doing, engaged with, and deliberately, consciously assume a quiet, receptive, listening state with no agenda, no music, no cell phone, no external connections. It is a practice, a commitment, a kind of naked vulnerability, which nourishes my soul with the food that feeds it: silence. The nourishment that grows me, and helps me digest the experience of life.
Ironically, I find a brief hush actually often allows me to work smarter, not harder, for I will find a new idea, an inspiration, a creative twist for how to do something better when I let it go, even for a few moments, or I take a step back from it all.
In the quiet, sometimes I encounter my mind sifting through my problems, and struggles. If so, I naturally allow myself to turn them in the direction of God. In the comfort and presence of Spirit I seek guidance. In this silence, which allows the larger Reality to enter into my awareness, I allow myself to receive instruction. The silence helps me to bring myself into contact with a world beyond me.
I believe in silence. Like air, water, and food, I believe it is a basic human need. For me, I believe the way out of the stresses, strains, and struggles of these times is quiet.
Colleen Natalie Lees