The old saying is that silence is golden. Often the noisiest place in the world is inside our own heads. Outside can be almost devoid of noises but our out chatter robs us of the chance to appreciate the quiet. Sometimes, though, we find ourselves in a place of calm and inner quiet. These moments can arise anywhere.

I’ve always found that the early morning and afternoon can be particularly good for this. When I sit down for my morning hot cup of tea or coffee, before starting the day in earnest, I can sometimes feel the need for my mind just to so switch off for a little while. When I go into this place of mind, I become an observer, just watching, and listening to everything around me. Seeing the long shadows cast by the sun across the room, and the morning light illuminating some cut-flowers. The space I am in ceases to be seen as place of activity. Everything is just as it is. For those moments only the moment itself matters, and appreciating every detail of that.

In my early twenties I had a lovely dog called Helen, named after Helen of Troy. There were one or two awkward moments over the years when I would meet women with the same name. Once I also played a joke on a friend who was coming to stay with me. I told him that I shared my house with Helen, and that she had a bit of a problem with facial and body hair. I asked him not to stare because this made her uncomfortable. I don’t remember how funny he found it when he met Helen, but I enjoy remembering it.

The point of mentioning my dog is that while I had her, I used to have my morning coffee sitting with her. I’m not sure what it is, but animals can assist in cultivating this sense of silence and presence.

Ophelia and I also spend quite a bit of time with horses. Like most animals, they are constantly on the look out for either food or danger. In between though, sometimes you can also catch special moments of peace and stillness. There is something amazing about sharing a moment, just being with a beautiful beast that weighs over half a ton; an animal that could quite easily crush you.

Making time for silence is essential as part of our everyday life. It doesn’t have to be in a particular place, though you may have favourites too. If you have difficulty settling in to a place of quiet, don’t force it. All this will do is create more noise.

To cultivate silence, try the following:
–    Make yourself a comforting drink
–    turn off any sources of loud noise, like TVs, radio, etc..
–    make sure you are comfortable, whether you are sitting, lying down, or standing.
–    It helps to hold an open posture.
–    Focus on a particular object in front of you. It can be anything. Just observe it’s details, the patterns, colours, and textures.
–    Or, listen to the ambient sounds that are around you. Maybe there are birds, or the hum of street traffic, or even the fridge.
–    This can be done at home, but you could go to a park, or sit in a quite space, like a church. A quite corner in a café is also fine. You can also steal time while you’re sitting on the bus or train.

You will find that the more you do this, the easier it becomes. One of the tricks is, in my opinion, not to think about. What matters here is that for a few minutes you experience some peace and quite. This of, course, is relative and must be.

Also, have a think about moments when you have felt most at peace. Even if you can’t replicate the experience, you know already what this feels like.


One thought on “Silence

  1. Thanks so much for this blog James. What an appropriate theme to write about and I love the way you weave your words and life together. Especially loved remembering my dog and the silences we shared when he was alive.

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