Sometimes spirituality can be a complicated thing. What words do I say next? What is it that I do with those beads? How exactly am I meant to sit?
These complications can bring incredible depth and beauty to an experience, but they can also make it hard for us to begin. That’s why we love the simplicity of silence.
Traditions which have engaged in silence tell us that this space enables us to listen to our own selves. Our ‘Inner Compass’ is something which is harder to find and can be drowned out by the noise of everyday life. Silence can give us a little glimpse into who we really are.
Men and women from monastic orders have practiced silence for as long as records exist. Some would spend time in silence as a prayer. Meals sometimes taken in silence to experience something mystical in meeting together. Days, weeks, spent tin silent retreat giving space for God … a spiritual voice echoing in the silence.
Silence is a practice which can create a different and hollow centre in each of us. That might feel a little odd but it’s idea is this – we are full and we benefit from making spaces which are empty and available. If you feel like can be a little overwhelming or if you feel your time and resources are all used up then you might find silence helps you.
Think of all our rushing around. Do we ever have space to notice things?
Think of all our busy tasks filling our time. Do we ever have space to be rather than do?
Think of all the demands on us. Is there ever a moment when we can be available – to ourselves, to others or to God?
“The glory of God always shows itself in an empty space… We have to make a home for the Word to come and dwell among us, a space for God to be.” \
(From a lecture given by a Dominican Abbot to the World Congress of Benedictine Abbots, in Rome in September 2000)
Last year we did a little month long experiment where we asked people to spend five minutes in silence each day for a month and to see what happened. For many the experience was a surprise and a bit of a shock. Far from being bored many explained to us that “something happened.” For others this simple practice of silence provided some unlikely benefits. Can being silent help in business meetings? Can we embrace an almost silent quality in the way we shape websites? In a world full of words and noise what can we see when we embrace a little silence?
So we’d like to continue with a little challenge.
Would you try five minutes of silence a day for a week and see what happens?
You might try it this way:
- Find a comfortable and peaceful place. Maybe a room in your house, your garden, by a river or the sea, maybe a hidden spot in your workplace. (I used to be silent in a store cupboard !)
- Take a few moments to settle yourself, take some deep breaths and relax.
- Begin your time of silence.
- Don’t worry if things come into your mind or you get distracted. Be aware of what’s come into your thoughts, be thankful or ponder it and settle again.
- Finish your silence with a few deep breaths again and take a moment to be thankful.
- At the end of your time (we recommend 5 minutes to start with) jot down any thoughts or impressions.
Doing this Silence Challenge was always going to be an experiment. I wonder if you’ve had a go and what you’ve thought? Why not post a response on one of our social media pages using #silencechallenge ? We’d love to hear all of your feedback.
My hope is that silence might become part of your world going forward. And maybe you’ve read this article and feel as though you’d like to give silence a try – our The Silence Challenge Guide might help you. Why not give it a go?
“We need to find God and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence – in nature, trees, flowers and grass – they grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, the sun – they all move in silence – we need silence to touch our souls” (Mother Teresa)