Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Making peace with silence

Artist: Viktor Vasnetsov

I'm very interested in the aversion many people have to silence. Last week in one of my Foundations in Mediative Practice classes, a woman complained when we all kept silence for five minutes. "That felt like forever," she insisted. "I thought the bell would never end."

Five minutes.

And so, it will not surprise you that I agree with the following:

Make peace with silence, and remind yourself that it is in this space that you'll come to remember your spirit. When you're able to transcend an aversion to silence, you'll also transcend many other miseries. And it is in this silence that the remembrance of God will be activated.

Wayne W. Dyer


  1. Yes. But spiritual directors should always remember that, for many people, silence means unhappiness. I remember the silence that often went on for days after the violent arguments of my parents. I remember, and still experience sometimes, the silence of being in trouble, often not knowing why. Many people, especially among the elderly and those who are single spend most of their lives in lonely silence craving the noise of companionship.

    Silence can mean all is not well whilst noise and chatter means everyone is getting along and that you are not "invisible."

  2. Yes, I agree, MadPriest. Interestly, I used this Dyer quotation as a springboard for the ongoing meditation class I taught last night (and I'll repeat that - more or less - this morning in about three hours). I mentioned that, for many people, silence means punishment and we talked about families in which the "silent treatement" is used.
    That can be utterly devastating.

    I also think some people have an aversion to silence because they truly do not know how to work skillfully with what their mind gets up to during that silence.

    Thanks for this comment because I really didn't develop the issue very thoroughly in the original post. It certainly merits a lot more attention.

  3. I can see both points....but I think that whether silence carries with it anger and lonliness or peace and serenity, silence can be defeaning for those willing to listen.

  4. Sorry,I'm late to the conversation. While silence can be a very negative thing as described by MadPriest and as experienced in my own life, it just means there is more material with which to work. The work may be long and unpleasant, but as Dyer says if you are willing to complete the work you will transcend the miseries and the aversion to silence. It is then that silence will have new meaning. You can't skip the down and dirty of the work though.
    Carolyn L.


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