“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence … We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa
“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius
“The quieter you become the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass
Lately I’ve had a deep desire to be home, be silent, and work on my writing. Actually for most of my life, I’ve loved being alone, thinking my own thoughts and forging my own path. I’ve never been a joiner, and there have been times when I was misunderstood because I didn’t ascribe to the accepted point of view on a subject. For the most part that’s been okay with me because somewhere deep inside I felt connected to something much greater than myself. This isn’t a feeling I can articulate very well. It’s only been in the last few years when more and more spiritual teachers and scientists are espousing silence as a stress reliever and way to make sense of our lives, that I feel vindicated in my life long search for silence.
The other day a college friend of mine, Terry Green, who is an independent film maker and screen writer, wrote an interesting post on Facebook which described this feeling I’ve had for most of my life. He wrote that writers need to have a quiet, private place to write so we can hear what our characters have to say to each other. If we get out of their way, they will speak and all we have to do is write down their conversation. I love that. It’s so true. When I’m writing I have to get into a zone and allow what wants to come through speak to me. If I get out of the way, the voice that speaks is so much more articulate than I could ever be. I love this life of daily silence. What I’ve learned is that when I listen, I hear deep levels of wisdom that I would never have heard if I were still out in the noisy world.
It seems to me that anyone who is creative, and I believe that’s all of us, need silence to regroup and regenerate. If I don’t have silence during my waking hours, then I find it harder to sleep because my mind is too busy with the noise of the day to allow me to relax enough to go into deep sleep which is where we have the opportunity to be renewed. I also wonder if we would have any of the wonderful inventions, scientific theories, or artwork we enjoy today if it weren’t for the inventor, scientist, or artist taking time to be silent and listen to the inspiration that was trying to get through the noise of their everyday thoughts.
There is a great story about Albert Einstein I heard on a biography of him on one of the science channels. When he was stuck on the next step of a theory or mathematical problem he was working on, he’d ride the trolley car. He’d ride until his head had cleared and the answer to his dilemma presented itself. I loved that story because, in essence that’s what I do when I’ve got a dilemma.
The last five years of my public teaching career, I had to drive an hour each way to get to and from school. Though the drive was long, it was also a great time to have silence. There were so many times while I was driving in silence, that the answer to some problem at school with a student, or the play I was directing, or a lesson I was going to teach would come to me. When someone asked me why I didn’t listen to music, or audio books as I drove, I said, “Because driving in silence allows solutions to my problems to come to me.” Our minds need time to process so we can come up with an entirely new solution to whatever project we happen to be working upon.
I’ve found silence to be of great solace and source of my own creativity and I believe everyone, even extroverts need some of it every day.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015