Practical Spirituality

Practical Spirituality

Silence: One Step to Transformation

posted by Jonathan Ellerby

The message is old, the practice is timeless. The teaching
is universal, and yet most of us still run from it today: take time to be in
silence
.

In virtually every spiritual tradition and discipline, there
is a common understanding that silence is healing, powerful and essential for
true growth and spiritual awakening. It is a silence that you must choose. It
is not the space between phone calls and texts , it’s a cultivated space. It is
a space you choose and a time you set aside to be still, to be in silence and
to truly listen.

In silence we may draw closer to the place within ourselves
where the mental chatter and endless cycles of response and reaction to the
outside world can rest. Or it may be a time to hear those inner voices and what
they need more clearly. True spiritual silence is not just the absence of
noise, but a way of listening. It’s about being so present to the moment you
are in that wisdom, beauty and joy emerge spontaneously from the light that is
within things. Think of a time when you woke up to an empty house that is
typically filled with commotion. Or when you worked late and finally finished
only to walk the halls, relieved and reveling in the silence. It may have been
a day you went for a walk and forgot your ipod, instead you just remained in
silence, watching and listening. It can happen in many settings, but it happens
less often than we’d like or expect. The pleasure of a pure silence is
illusive.

Planning, typing, texting, phoning, and other simple modes
of communication do not count in silent times. Such busy-mind activities are
often as internally loud as any crowded room. Whether you take your silent time
sitting in a sacred place in your community, sitting in a personal meditation
place at home or while in a simple physical activity like walking, stretching
or tai chi, be sure your own silence is very intentional and you stay committed
to listen and pay attention.

The magic is that often true silence only leads us inward
for a period of time, and then in the purity of that stillness we are
enraptured by the orchestra of sound and light that surrounds us. We are
confronted and opened by the wondrous beauty of life that is everywhere. For
some people silence is a spiritual practice they choose to engage every day. It
could be five minutes in the morning or 10 minutes at night. I like to practice
daily silence, but for me the real spiritual practice begins when my silent time
is over, and I try to carry that sense of peace, openness and mindfulness into
my relationships and my encounter of the world. Some days, I can hold that
silence inside and feel it, even when life gets busy around me. That is the
amazing gift of silence – it’s always present behind things. You just have to
listen.

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