The Power of Silence

Picture by Mauri Sherrington

Picture by Mauri Sherrington

There’s a whole industry devoted to helping us fill those uncomfortable pauses in a conversation; books offering “A field guide to awkward silences”, YouTube videos listing “14 things awkward people do”, even a phone app offering “10 witty lines to learn by heart” so that we are never short of things to say during a job interview, on a date, or that dreaded meal with the in-laws…..

It seems we would do anything to fill a gap in the conversation.

Buddhism encourages us to do the opposite; to be with the silence and welcome it as an opportunity to communicate more deeply with others and ourselves. It suggests that real silence, (the cessation of talking of both the mouth and of the mind), is not the kind of silence that oppresses us, but a silence that heals and nourishes us.

In meditation we discover that to resist reaching out to the ‘chatter’ in our minds, but simply acknowledge it and let it go, can be a powerful way to hear ourselves. To hear without a veil of self-judgement getting in the way. And the less we judge, the more we can listen, and so tap into our, genuine, true, authentic selves.

We can then take that learning out into our everyday lives and, when the silence is over, our speech can express the wakefulness we’ve discovered on the cushion. We can begin to communicate from the calm and genuine space that we have found beneath our usual worried and defensive selves. The authentic presence that is so often hidden behind all our habitual responses and pre-prepared witty lines.

Why not join our Calm Abiding Day of Practice on Sunday 18 October, and experience the power of silence for yourself.

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