A Quiet Misunderstanding

by Chris de Serres

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Silence can be biting.  We are always performing in life.  So we don’t like silence.  It’s synonymous with rejection, indifference, apathy, irritation, and anger.  We live in a perpetual feedback loop, always waiting for a response.  The more silence spreads out the more we think we did something wrong or embarrassing.  So we edit or delete that tweet or facebook comment.  If we aren’t being active we are depressed and quiet.  In our silence.

We send that instant message.  We see the … in a cloud, but then it disappears.  This person decided not to respond to us.  Silence.

So it’s no wonder silence makes us all uncomfortable.  There are too many negative connotations to it, and that’s a shame because it is one of the most beautiful things.

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You know you picked the right mate if you can be silent around them.  We are all told meditation is so beneficial to health and it is true.  I am always trying to find time to meditate.  It is uncomfortable.  It takes effort to do.  Our lives are not set up to accommodate silence.

Just sit down for 5 minutes.  Close your eyes.  Notice all of the thoughts and sensations clouding your present moment.  Vying for your attention, your sense of urgency.  It’s so hard to let go of it.  5 minutes seems like an eternity.  All of these demands churn around us every minute of every day.

Unless you are were lucky you didn’t acquire this skill of finding silence.  You are a baby to the art of enjoying silence and you keep forgetting about silence.

In the western world, we don’t think of silence as a thing to nourish, to respect.  Yet, it’s essential to experience and be okay with silence wherever we are.

In my crisis hotline work I use silence as a tool.  A person in crisis often just needs to be heard.  So I let them speak for as long as they need.  I don’t offer solutions.  I wait for them to finish, then I confirm they are done with silence.  Silence allows them to find their own solution.

I can’t tell you how difficult it is to be silent when I want to solve someone’s problem.  In this way, I need time and practice because I am not very good at silence.

Nature is so silent.  When hiking with our daughter I remind her that if we are not silent we miss everything around us.  So she speaks to us in whispers.  She invites silence, which in turn invites deer, birds, squirrels, and all other animals to come closer.

Children know silence.  They are not burdened with all of the preoccupations we adults carry on our backs.  When she was 2-years old we started doing 3-minute meditations.  Now we do 5 minutes.  There is nothing so beautiful to be sharing quiet moments of nothingness with my daughter.

She knows that making room for nothing is a good thing.  A necessary thing.  Our thoughts are not who we are.  If we are silent, they pass through us like a cloud.

Enjoy your silence.

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