As a mother of a very active three and a half year old boy, I am apprehensive of silence. It usually means that the little guy is up to some mischief which I better find out about quickly before he puts himself in some sort of danger! But now that he is growing up, I must also give him credit for being able to play all by himself quietly, without actually getting into any trouble and so silence now always does not necessarily mean reason for concern. But still that feeling of ‘what if’ lurks somewhere in my mind. And so silence in that front continues to be not that a welcoming feeling, yet!
However, in this heavily cacophonous world that we live in today, it is a somewhat different story. We run around trying to juggle work schedules and personal relationships, trying to seek some peace and quiet in our days that are mostly punctuated by beeps and ring tones. At times, it seems I am losing myself in this frenzy and I do not know how to keep up. And it’s not just the gadgets and schedules that are upsetting the balance, it’s people too. I wonder is we are becoming more mechanical, less empathetic, more pretentious and losing touch with our humane side.
The importance of taking a step back from all this madness becomes, at times, an imperative for our own well being. To shut out the world for even a few minutes can have a calming effect on our overworked minds and help restore some inner peace at the end of a crazy day. And that’s what I have been trying to practice consciously over the past few months. It has indeed been a welcome respite from the whirlwind that keeps my mind in an overworked state most of the time. Embracing the joy that silence brings allows crazy thoughts to retreat and clear the mind for a little while and lets feelings to flow a bit freely. If those feelings have been inside of us for some time (as many of us often keep them locked up inside, lest they disrupt our daily lives), that stillness can bring cathartic tears. It can do wonders and also help us think clearly and comfort our troubled souls. Acknowledging the quiet moments of life is a blessing that I am slowly learning to appreciate.
Have you ever listened to the silence that dawn brings? Or the one that comes with the pitter-patter of raindrops while every other noise is cancelled out? How about the one that cradles us when sitting on a quiet beach, looking out into the seemingly endless expanse of water? And my favorite of all- the silence of the snowfall? It comforts me and hugs me on the dreaded winter days and nights and helps me pause the ruckus outside for a fleeting few moments, filling me with happiness and wonder. The other day while listening to ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel, I was momentarily taken back to our time spent in Minneapolis, when Neel and I would often go out on short drives around dusk along the banks of the mighty Mississippi that runs through the heart of the Twin Cities. This was one of our favorite CD-s to listen to as we enjoyed the beauty of the dusk outside and the strange calmness that the music in the car brought, and for a few precious moments, we would forget our troubles (which were quite a handful during those student days). It was blissful. Music has that power to help us silence the madness of our daily lives and transport us to a better place where we can be with our thoughts and reflect on who we are and where we are headed to.
I am no expert but can say this much from personal experience that when you feel the need to stop and breathe, just do it. Breathe deep and pause, even if for a few minutes. Maybe you can do it consciously at the end of your day, everyday… sit at a place away from the clamor and clatter for a little while and let silence wrap you up in a gentle hug. That peaceful feeling can be fleeting and minute, like a drop of water in an endless sea of turmoils, but it will be precious and welcoming. It can help you a bit today and a bit more tomorrow. Everyday, I look forward to my moments of peace and quiet when silence is my companion and I think, hope and aspire. It has been helping me, in baby steps to try and live more mindfully than habitually. In today’s world, when there seems to be so much negativity and hatred all around, it is my little beacon of hope that keeps me from drowning in the bitterness and gloom. It helps me see the good that there is still all around, all these amazing people who, in face of adversities are relentlessly carrying on their work for the betterment of one and all-to stop the senseless destruction of human life, to raise awareness towards the plight of the less fortunate, to halt the effects of climate change, to help the endangered species in the animal world…so on and so forth. And it fills me with hope that:) It helps me do my tiny part and gives me courage to raise my children in a world where the promise for justice and peace is real, teach them right from wrong and guide them along their journey and in their role for a better world.
The quieter you become, the more you will be able to hear- Rumi.