If you’ve ever wondered what difference it would make if you brought silence into your life, then you might want to read Anne LeClaire’s thought-provoking book, Listening Below the Noise,[i] where she tells how choosing not to speak for an entire day changed her life and that of her family, too.
- The Daily Routine Shifts
Originally, Anne’s intention was to be silent for just one day, but it soon turned into a weekly practice. She liked how not speaking put her in a more reflective space that allowed her to feel more aware. More alive. More connected with the ground of her being, the part of her that was real. Initially, this decision was not welcomed by her family. It was inconvenient not to be able to talk to her, to ask her questions about pressing issues. Yet over time, her family discovered (along with her) that much of what we deem as pressing is not so urgent after all.
- Silence Clears Out The Past
To her surprise, not speaking allowed all the flotsam inside Anne to surface. It was easy to ignore hurtful memories from the past when she was busy, but pain never really goes away until we deal with it. Anne began by examining her behavior—not so much to judge it, but more to bring compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness to it. After all, how could she forgive anyone else until she had accepted and forgiven herself?
- Silence Can Honor Boundaries
Anne became aware of the importance of boundaries, of allowing other people to work through their issues without jumping in and trying to fix their problem. Obviously, if you aren’t speaking, you can’t offer to help. Allowing others to have their space brings the gift of acceptance into the picture. It silently tells them you have confidence in their ability to figure it out.
- Silence Recognizes Your Habits
Anne knew she could change her habits, but first she had to become aware of them. That awareness began to develop during Anne’s days of silence as she considered what she would have said or how she would have responded had she been speaking. She became aware of the times she would have given advice when none was requested or judgments she would have made without even thinking.
Once we understand the need for our own space and the importance of silence, it’s easier to offer those same gifts to others. Silence like that runs deep. It’s in the deeps that we truly meet each other, perhaps even discover that we are each other at some deep level. That kind of awakening gives birth to an understanding that does not feel the need to judge.
- Silence Helps One Live Life Consciously
It was in the silence that Anne began to hear herself, that she was able to see with unveiled eyes her assumption that she was right, no matter what. Gradually, it became easier to let things be as they are. This allowed her to see herself more clearly. It was a revelation that taught her to speak a little more carefully, to spend her days a little more consciously.
Anne was learning to listen to herself—and in that small act, she was becoming more aware not only of her own tendencies, but also of what others were saying and what they weren’t saying. More aware of when speech was welcome, and when quiet listening was the better choice. More aware of when to just be there, without saying a word.
- Silence Allows Deeper Levels to Open
When you are silent, the universe comes calling. Inspiration, ideas, creativity, answer—even healing—just seem to flourish when we honor the silence. All sound, all activity comes from stillness. When we open ourselves to that power, amazing things can happen. This does not imply that we should live our whole life without speaking, but it does mean that through the practice of silence, we can come in contact with that part of ourselves which is already whole, that is always at peace and knows only joy. This is the part that can become a presence in our life, guiding and helping us, regardless of what is going on. But first you have to pay attention.
- Listen To Your Heart
It is the listening that opens the door. When you truly hear, your attention moves from your head to your heart. Your heart does not doubt. It just knows. Heart knowledge allows us to live life more spontaneously. The sense of freedom it engenders allows us to let go and let the river take us where it wants us to go. We were never in control anyway. Now we not only know that, we also know that the control is in far wiser hands than ours, so we relax and go with the flow, trusting in the higher wisdom every inch of the way.
Silence can teach us so much. How to wait. How to be patient. How to be still. How to just be. Nature is the perfect teacher. Nature just is. In Nature, change is constant, and yet so natural. No anxiety. No rushing. No urgency. Just being and evolving, being and evolving, following a rhythm that can never be heard, only lived.
There is a broadness to life—and to our spirit—that we can feel when we commune with Nature. Boundaries silently evaporate as we enter a deeper level of being where all is in harmony, all is in sync. We are part of that eternal symphony, each one of us a single flute, yet not alone at all, for the stream of life sweeps us up and carries us on the tide of its becoming.
Finding this deep center brings us back to where we started before we even knew we’d begun. It’s a circular journey, a spiritual journey that returns us to our core, over and over and over again.
May that journey be yours, in all its fullness.
[i] LeClaire, Anne; Listening Below the Noise; Harper Perennial 2010.