Those of us who are safe and healthy in our homes with our family during this pandemic are fortunate. I love having everyone home, but it can be difficult to get some peace and quiet. Luckily, I’ve been able to find peace and quiet and so much more in the power of Silence.
In our family, we have the loudest to quietest ranking. It’s a good-natured ranking with simple criteria: 1) loud voice, 2) talks the most, and 3) general noisemaking. Our eleven-year-old ranks solidly at #1. He is as sweet as he is loud, (that’s another ranking). My rank is #2 and, I am admittedly, loud-ish. My husband ranks a distant 3rd, with our eldest son close behind in 4th. Our results can be non-empirically interpreted as the Extroverts are loud and loquacious; the Introverts are not.
I came to appreciate Silence later in life. My desire to become quieter began intentionally. I’m an extrovert, and formally trained in personality assessments like MBTI, DiSC, and Enneagram. I was well aware that I needed to listen more and talk less.
Early in my career, I began practicing the skill of Silence in business meetings. I would refrain from talking by putting an “x” on a piece of paper when I had an impulse to speak. Next to the “x”, I would jot one or two words to help me to remember the gist of my comment. I rarely had to revisit my notes because I learned quickly that if something was really important, it was voiced by the group. I could actively listen in the meeting and rely on the wisdom of the group to handle any clarifications or keen connections. In personal relationships, I was relieved to learn I did not need to keep the conversation flowing. I began to learn for myself that silence truly was golden.
Keeping with the Introvert/Extrovert framework — Introverts are naturally predisposed to the inner world whereas extroverts place their attention on the outer world. In the world of Silence, Introverts have a leg up on us chatty-types. Carl Jung defined introversion as, “valuing the inner life more highly than the material world.” But, even those fortunate enough to be predisposed to their inner life have to dig deeper to truly appreciate all that Silence offers.
The inner life is where our thoughts and emotions reside. For most of us, our day consists of responding to the demands of our outer world and being actively involved in our inner world of thoughts and emotions. With the fast pace of this modern world, it may seem that there are no other alternatives. As Robert Sardello says this in his beautiful work, Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness:
Our choosing to live in the noise of our thoughts and emotions – within the incessant clamor around us happens almost without our recognition.Robert Sardello
Yep, most of us are unaware there’s more. The challenge with staying in thoughts, emotions, and even the identity of our extroversion/introversion is that they all share the same real estate – the Almighty Ego. Silence doesn’t come so easily there. We have to go a step further as we notice our thoughts, emotions, and personality traits and, lovingly (and continually) release them. This is where true Silence resides.
Ram Das, says, “How does one become loving awareness? If I change my identification from the ego to the soul, then as I look at people, they all appear like souls to me. I change from my head, the thought of who I am, to my spiritual heart, which is a different sort of awareness – feeling directly, intuiting, loving awareness.”
Ram Das makes it sound so easy. But, there’s hope — as I have found with practice. We can get past our busy minds and daily to-do’s to access Silence. And, I have noticed that even with all the discord and angst in the world right now, that my judgments of myself and others are being drowned out by the Power of Silence. What a beautiful world we would live in if we were all able to see each other’s souls rather than our differences that keep The Almighty Ego in charge.
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