“Silence is a source of great strength.” Lao Tzu
This month, I am following my dear friends, The World According to Dina, Leaping Tracks and Silkannthreades into silence. For most of us, this is entering unfamiliar territory. We have become accustomed to sound, whether it be the soothing lilt of music, the white noise of traffic, urgent text message notifications, or the inevitable clamour of an alarm clock. At the same time, our affinity with silence has lessened to the point that we are uneasy in what seems to be a “void.” Consider how we rush to fill a conversation when there is a lapse into silence.
Silence is a complete absence of sound, something which very few of us will ever experience. City dwellers will always have the company of noise. Nature offers the echoes of ocean waves crashing along a shoreline, wind rattling the trees, rain pelting the ground, voices of animals and the songs of birds. And the universe – even interstellar space is filled with noise.
I am discovering that silence can be reached when we allow the noise to drift away, when we relinquish the message conveyed by the incoming signal. In so doing, we open ourselves to new possibilities and outcomes.
In the end, silence is a personal journey, an inner conversation, an open invitation to explore and celebrate.
“I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.” Chaim Potok
Finding Silence within a City Garden from Rebecca Budd aka Clanmother on Vimeo.
“Part of doing something is listening. We are listening. To the sun. To the stars. To the wind.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, Swiftly Tilting Planet
Karl A Menninger, psychiatrist, once said, “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”
Listening is an act of life, of faith, of beauty, of hope. It requires absolute mindfulness.
When we listen, we create. It is our gift to our world.
“We do not grow by knowing all of the answers, but rather by living with the questions.”
Max De Pree, Businessman and Writer
How many questions will you be asking today? I confess I have no idea. My “educated” guess would be in the hundreds, beginning on Monday morning when I ask, “Where did the weekend go?” Most of our questions seek knowledge and start with the usual who, what, where, when and why. For example:
Who did that? What went wrong? Where are they? When are you going to grow up? Why did this happen to me?
Bono once said, “We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.” Perhaps if we asked different questions, more people would listen.
Who can I help? What can I do? Where can I make a difference? When do you need me? Why don’t we work together?
“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.”
Antony Jay, English Writer, Broadcaster and Director
“Learning is a result of listening, which in turn leads to even better listening and attentiveness to the other person. In other words, to learn from the child, we much have empathy, and empathy grows as we learn.”
Alice Miller, Polish Psychologist and World Renowned Author
The study of language begins before we utter a single word. We learn to speak by listening. It is the first step in our education.
We relied on others to give us our voice. And from that moment, we were well on our way to expressing and articulating our needs and desires. Sometimes with strident persistence and at other times, with calm assurance or anxious concern.
Time serves as a formidable obstacle. With only so many hours in a day and a fixed supply of energy, we are limited by our finite existence. This is when we must be selective and chose those conversations that inspire and challenge us to live bold lives. Listen to hear the heartbeat of the universe.
“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.”
“Bore, n.: A person who talks when you wish him to listen.”
Ambrose Bierce – Editor, Journalist, Writer
A few years ago, I watched a self-help video on how to “network’ a room and become an “influencer.” By following a few simple steps, I could be someone others would consider worthy of befriending. There were 10 tips, all of which I have forgotten, except for the first one. If you want people to listen to your ideas, don’t be boring. Our greatest fear appears to be that of looking dull and tiresome. We go to great lengths to be interesting and attract attention, whether through our appearance and dress, our professional titles, or through witty dialogue. In effect, we strive to be entertainers. Yet, there is an elegantly simple truism.
The listener is generally the most popular person in any crowd.
“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.”
Wilson Mizner – Playwright, Raconteur, and Entrepreneur.
“Just because I didn’t do what you told me, doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening to you!”
Hank Ketcham, American cartoonist who created Dennis the Menace
We think that when people listen, they agree. When someone nods in understanding, we assume it means consensus. We may prefer harmony in our dialogues for it brings a sensation of well-being, but disagreements are the genesis of transformations.
Listening doesn’t mean you agree.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”