“When you become aware of silence, immediately there is that state of inner still alertness. You are present. You have stepped out of thousands of years of collective human conditioning.”
Sometimes when we notice the silence, we look for sound: we play soft background music; or we tune in to the voices of the radio; or we blare the television even if we aren’t watching.
Sometimes when we are faced with silence, it reminds us that we are alone and we call a friend or family member. We want to hear a voice – any voice – to fill that space.
Why is that? I was inspired recently by composer John Cage’s work 4’33 (You can watch a performance of this piece here). In it, Cage explores silence and for a whole 4 minutes and 33 seconds he sits in silence despite the presence of musical instruments. It seems that silence is also an act to be performed.
For this mindfulness exercise, I invite you to embrace silence. Sit comfortably and listen to the true sounds of silence: the hum of the refrigerator, the beep of a truck backing down your street, the sound of rain hitting your windows.
What feelings does silence arise in you?
What urges do you have to fill or disrupt the silence?
What thoughts arose in the silence?
Enjoy the moment of peace and quiet.