Have you ever stood outside where there is very little noise from human sources...and just...listened?
That silence is so rich, so deep and nourishing. Its rhythms move and flow as you breathe it in, and then out again. Sometimes I feel I could live on an exclusive diet of that wonderful stillness.
Of course, if you find yourself in a place completely undisturbed by humans,the silence becomes utterly profound. But even with a few noises from civilization, deep stillness is available.
And then, if you allow yourself time to listen to nature's quietude, you will begin to hear all kinds of sounds—insects murmuring or tapping, leaves drifting through branches, the whir of birdwings, the trickle of water down a tiny stream, or the flow of wind over the desert. Those sounds, instead of diminishing silence, become part of it in some mysterious way.
Ram Dass said, "The more you are silent, the more you can hear." So true.
Silence and sound are equally important in my healing arts practice. My client and I may each speak in turn. And then we may let words rest, and listen to the subtle inner movement of body and heart. It's like titration. We welcome words, then we pause. We pause and then we speak; a unique rhythm develops during each session. And as we stop and listen, we may begin to hear or feel what seems like the swing of the trees in the wind, or the come and go of ocean tides and waves. Or simple stillness. The healing rhythms of the body.
Rest is an important element of stillness. In zapchen, the playful collection of breath, sound and movement exercises that I teach my clients, rest is central. You repeat a sound or movement for a little while, then you stop. And rest. In fact "napping" is a key component of zapchen. It is easier for the brain, and perhaps the rest of the body as well, to assimilate a new exercise or experience or concept (like calm and ease) if you do it, then stop doing it. And rest. You could think of it as an absorption buffer. Or ripples going out from a drop of water on the still surface of a pond. There are spaces between those little waves, spaces of silence and stillness. Like the rhythm of your heart: contraction...then rest...contraction...then rest...
To paraphrase Hugh Milne, a wise cranial-sacral teacher: "It's amazing how much a little silence...or the right word...will do."
Next time I'll write about something that has helped me ease physical pain.