Room 23: Embrace Silence
Part 1: Stop Generating Noise
Blaise Pascal once said that “all man’s miseries come from not being able to sit in a quiet room,” which makes silence the perfect room for us to visit.
It’s cheap, fast, hallucinogenic free and like all good rooms, the launching pad for many more rooms to come. Unfortunately, silence isn’t always golden. It can be torture, or at the very least, uncomfortable, lonely and boring.
Silence forces us to stop working, stop doing and, above all, to stop and face our selves in the mirror. I don’t know about you, but spending time with myself is no picnic. That’s why TV was invented.
But, as difficult as it may be, silence is also the space where you find peace and stillness, and if you get good at it, wisdom.
The answers to all our questions are there in the silence. And not just big and bold, “why I’m here on earth,” kind of questions, but every day stuff, like “how come my tire blew out on the freeway" or “why is it I keep banging my head on doors?”
Nothing is too small for silence to answer. But, if that space is always filled with noise and chatter, than we’re never able to stop long enough to hear it.
It’s like the universe is whispering in our ears…only we have headphones on.
Silence leads to peace, which leads to receptivity, which leads to awareness, which leads to joy, meaning and purpose in our life. Again, this makes embracing silence the perfect room for us to visit this week.
Before we begin, here’s a quick fact for you: more than 30 million people in the United States are exposed to harmful sound levels on a regular basis. This doesn’t just lead to hearing loss, but sleep disorders, high blood pressure and anxiety.
Too much noise is not good for our health. But, even worse, it’s not good for our peace of mind.
Of course, If you live anywhere near people, you’re going to get honking horns, lawn mowers, jumbo airplanes and screaming kids. That’s life, and while not ideal, we can live with that.
The problem noise I’m talking about is self generated. It’s the self-inflicted need to fill every bird chirping quiet and empty space we find with some bit of distraction.
We all do it. We get in the car and turn on the radio, we go for a run and switch on our IPods. We walk into an empty living room and instinctively turn on the TV, blare the radio, reach for the telephone, switch on the computer.
All this noise keeps us distracted from what matters, from the important stuff—being with others, expressing our creativity, following our passions, embracing silence, seeking truth.
Call it laziness, habit, or fear, but anyway you look at it, it still keeps us in the same room.
Room 23: Embrace Silence
This week’s room is a simple, but powerful first step in embracing silence. It is a commitment to cutting down on the noise we bring into our lives.
Begin by seeing how many times this week you can ignore the urge to turn on something that makes noise. Work without the radio. Commute in silence. Don’t take phone calls for a day, or a few hours. Put the ringer on vibrate, turn the computer off.
Walk into a room and sit, grab a book, listen for your heartbeat. Just be.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t come easy at first. Silence is both a skill and an art. We have to learn to be quiet. This begins with a slow and conscious choice to remove noise from our lives.
Do that long enough and we won’t just become used to the silence, we will actually start to enjoy it. When that happens we can begin to use silence as a valuable tool to make our lives richer and more meaningful.
Go ahead…give noise the afternoon off. Still the world around you and within you, then see what’s left.
It’s a brand new room.