The Power of Silence

The Power of Silence
by Dr. Shelly Zavala

Do you find yourself filling up your time with noise from your phone, television or music player?  How often do you take time to just be in silence?

Silence takes effort, but it is where we begin to be our best, and it can be the beginning of mindfulness for many people.  With silence, our thoughts begin to focus inward and we gain the power we need to refuel our minds.  With silence, we begin to see and feel our surroundings.   Our busy and noisy lives often can get into the way of seeing the beauty of the world around us. When there is silence, there is time for introspection and to allow our true self to listen and to be heard.

We all have bad habits of distracting ourselves from our own being, but when we force ourselves to “just be” in silence, it is easier to clear our minds for dreaming and personal awareness.

So many of my clients come to me because they feel they don’t know themselves. They look at me in desperation and want help getting to know themselves.  When I suggest they get some needed down time from social media or their busy lives, and “just be” in silence, they often look at me in horror.

When we explore their fears of silence, I regularly hear such comments as “it’s uncomfortable,” “it makes me nervous,” “I don’t know how to do it,” or “it might make me feel out of control.” All of these comments are a reaction to the idea of being with the ‘self’ and only the self. Instead of being afraid, I ask them to embrace it and see what happens. Most of the time my clients return with positive comments and feelings about silence.

Taking time daily to just be in silence is invaluable. It is in silence that we truly learn who we are.  It is in silence, as a couple, that we truly see each other.  It is in silence that we learn about others by hearing them.  And, it is in silence that we see what is inside ourselves―deep inside our being.

If you are beginning your journey to mindfulness, try to commit to taking time for yourself daily to be in silence.  This does not mean you have to sit crossed legged for hours on end in meditation. It could just mean doing one (or more) of these things for a few minutes a day:

  • Sit or lie down, close your eyes and focus on inhalation and exhalation of your breath.
  • Wherever you are, just take 10 deep breaths.
  • Paying attention to what you see without naming it, without judging it.
  • Sit and eat without any background noise and focus on your food.
  • Go somewhere like a church, or in nature, or a quiet space in your home, and just experience the stillness, the silence.
  • Do gardening in silence.
  • Just be in your home without any background noises.
  • Power down all your technology for a morning, or even an hour. Turn it all off.

It is through being in silence great things can arise. Both Beethoven and Mozart would close themselves off from the world in silence for days at a time. It was in this silence that their great work was created.

There are have been many great men and women throughout history who needed silence, including Jesus, Buddha, Mother Theresa and Gandhi, just to name a few.

In his book “The Power of Myth,” Joseph Campbell shares his wisdom on silence: “This is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers this morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

I challenge you this week to find your silent place, your place of being with yourself, your place to grow and go inward. It is wonderful.