The other day, completely out of my comfort zone, I went on a “hike and yoga” morning get together, knowing no one. Having recently started following a particular yoga teacher on Instagram at the recommendation of my yoga instructor, I see that they are doing a hike and yoga session at a park near my house. In these situations my go to is to try and find a friend to go with me. No luck, so then I go back and forth, go, not go, go. So I wake up early, recheck the date and time and decide to do it.
Standing in the parking lot waiting to hike up the trail I start thinking, this is uncomfortable, I don't know anyone. There is nothing worse than standing around in silence, so I rely on my old standby, talk to a complete stranger to kill the silence. I start chatting and things start to look okay, then we circle up and the sweet, chipper instructor informs us that the hike will be a silent one.
What?! No talking, breathe, look around, experience, no talking. The discomfort sets in immediately, no talking, no music, just the sounds of nature, the sound of yoga mats against our backs and the sounds of our shoes hitting the trail. To add to the discomfort, people start passing us and saying hello and like some weird cult we wave and don't speak. It was uncomfortable and beautiful, all at the same time. Internally I am thinking, being quiet shouldn't be this hard, but it was, it really, really was!
“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.” Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
In silence we learn a lot about ourselves, I learned that I could survive feeling uncomfortable and still learn and grow from the experience. That the ramblings of my mind can still in the silence, that the lists, thoughts, worries eventually settle and you are left with yourself. You have to learn how to reacquaint yourself with the person you are when the noise, distractions and drama melt away.
“Words can be twisted into any shape. Promises can be made to lull the heart and seduce the soul. In the final analysis, words mean nothing. They are labels we give things in an effort to wrap our puny little brains around their underlying natures, when ninety-nine percent of the time the totality of the reality is an entirely different beast. The wisest man is the silent one. Examine his actions. Judge him by them.”
Karen Marie Moning
Take sometime in the next few days to sit in silence, walk around your neighborhood, visit a museum, a garden, go on as hike, do some yoga, sit and meditate...listen to the silence, let it speak to your soul. You might learn something about yourself, it might be very insightful or more along the lines of “I need to work on being with myself more, I have forgotten who I am.”
“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”
George Eliot, Impressions of Theophrastus Such
Lets learn to talk less, listen more, support more, to lend a ear instead of trying to fix everything with our words. Learn to be comfortable in the silence, it can be healing and meditative, or a prison, it is up to each of us to decide. -SG