Silence is where we come from and where we return to and in-between if we pay attention we become privy to the infinite silent reservoir that lives within us. Silence plays many roles in our lives and lately I've been reflecting about the value of silence and what it offers us when we make the space to drink it in.
Silence can take on a quality of holy nectar or Amrita which in Sanskrit means immortality and is often referred to as the nectar of the gods. This holy nectar is so sweet and delicious that you choose to savor it rather than chug it down tasting its' depth and complexity of flavors as they glide over your palette; in this way one might say that communing with silence becomes a doorway to immortality should we choose to enter.
Silence has inspired the poetry of great mystics like Rumi, Hafiz, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross and silence has also been the demise of prisoners put in solitary confinement over long periods of time. We pray in silence bowing our heads to the Great Mystery in temples, churches, mosques and on mountain tops. I recall being very humbled by the resounding silence I experienced in my early 20's when I climbed up to 18,000 feet and I took in the 360 degree vista of Himalayan peaks in Nepal-- there I touched a depth of silence which echoed out in all directions as far as the eye could see; this encounter with silence opened a portal to holiness that has served and guided me in my life ever since.
Silence has a quality of sacred nourishment overflowing like a bountiful waterfall-- silence needs nothing while it offers everything. There are moments when silence beckons you in and other instances when the roar of silence may be frightening.
Silence is all encompassing. Silence is infinite.
Silence can feel inviting like when your beloved smiles warmly at you drawing you into an embrace wordlessly transmitting the energy of love while at other times silence can feel punishing like when someone looks at you with a stone cold stare; in times like these silence can trigger feelings of sadness and isolation. Regardless of the experience silence touches and grow us.
We might also consider other roles silence plays in our relationships. There are some relationships where you come together in silence and feel completely at ease. You know the kind of friendships where you can simply be together? These are the ones where you walk together silently on a soft forest path smelling the scent of conifers as you bask in the abundance of pulsing green shoots that have sprouted up after the rain; these relationships offer us a chance to relax. This flavor of relationship tends to be sustainable over the long-term.
A question for you: Are you able to relax in your most intimate relationships?
It is important also to tend to the relationship with Silence itself. This is one of the most intimate relationships we can have as humans. Often times I find that epiphanies and insights reveal themselves in silence. It's those "Aha moments" to use a term that made it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary due to Oprah's frequent use of it to mean "a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension."
These "Aha moments" often emerge out of what may feel like deafening silence. Sometimes when you least expect it a kind of shimmering intimacy descends upon you much like the late afternoon light in winter that glances upon the spindly branches of the tree growing on the hill outside your window; this tender quality of meeting may present itself when we are willing to be with a perceived awkward moment of silence in ourselves or with another. It is in surrendering to this delicate silence that a truly intimate connection may bloom.
We may often feel obliged to fill the space with clever comments or a display of knowledge we've amassed. If you look at nature it is at ease with silence; silence becomes an auditory canvass making space for thousands of birds to share their morning reverie, as cicadas chirp, squirrels hiss casually tossing their discarded acorn shells down from treetops, the wind blowing through the trees caressing the leaves as deer pad through the woods branches cracking under their hooves. These sounds and many more make up the symphony of the natural world. We can only hear this outrageous composition because it happens on the backdrop of silence. All great music is born in silence.
What would your life be like if you took a cue from nature and intentionally created space to listen to silence rather than filling it with the radio spouting endless disturbing news reports or the television droning in the background? What if you regularly muted your devices leaving the airspace free of the incessant beeps and dings announcing "you've got mail?" The pervasive nature of this electronic cacophony incites my curiosity as to what our need to drown out silence is about? Are we running from empty vastness? What might we discover if we surrendered to silence?
The world around us is not slowing down or getting any quieter on its own and I wonder what we each can do to deepen into the relationship with the sweet waters of silence that are flowing within us? Perhaps we can intentionally pause creating spaces and times when we stop, listen and feel into the melody of silence-- inhaling its' ancient pulse as it courses through our veins vibrating in every cell and fiber of our being.
Take a deep breath, close your eyes and feel it now. The practice of slowing down and listening gently delivers us into a reservoir of pristine presence called Silence-- that which has always been and will always be an eternal refuge for all who choose to dwell there.