Thoughts, Words & Silence: Your Three Most Influential Assets
The three most powerful tools we all possess are our thoughts, our words and our silence. With these three assets alone we can change the way we operate in the world and hence, change the world. Gandhi’s quote: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world” is a truism that many of us had rather not face. As we continue our endeavors to change what is outside of ourselves, i.e., other people, our image or status, or our beliefs to fit the current trend, the inside of ourselves slowly falls asleep leaving us on a default path of continual dissatisfaction.
We’ve all heard many times over the saying, “the only person who can make you happy (in the deeper more spiritual sense of the word) is you!” Sure we can garnish brief moments of happiness in the company of others. We can also have glimpses of happiness by eating a fabulous meal or watching a great movie. But these are only glimpses and looking for happiness in these places over a lifetime might just leave you feeling disconnected from your source or feeling as if you can never quite grasp the deeper meaning of life.
If this describes what you might be feeling, a disconnect or lack of meaning in your life, don’t worry. It’s never too late to take notice of the sleeping giant inside of you and begin the journey toward his/her awakening.
Of the three assets I mention, the best place to begin your process of awakening is with silence. I will focus on silence in this post and address our “thoughts” and “words” in my next two posts.
Silence is the best place to begin but it is also the most difficult. Our world is so full of noise that we are not conditioned to sit with silence. It is awkward and uncomfortable. It will make your skin crawl with frustration as you play battle with the swarming thoughts inside your head. “What’s for dinner? Where am I going on vacation this year? I wonder what kind of trouble so-and-so got into at the office, etc.”….. “Shhhh” you say, “Be quiet! I am trying to practice silence.” And this could go on for the longest 5 minutes you’ve ever known. Be happy, this is totally normal and you are simply going through a decompression process. How long this decompression lasts depends on how often you practice. If you practice silence every day you will find your still point much quicker than if you practice only once a week.
By now you might be asking Why? I mean, if achieving silence is so difficult and it takes such effort to get good at it, then what could possibly be the benefit? Essentially, this is where your true self lives and it is through this silence that he or she communicates with you. Your inner-self could be screaming out to you to leave a job you hate, to create a life of deep meaning, or to learn to play the musical instrument you’ve always dreamed of playing but without the ability to listen, the voice inside you will fall asleep….until whenever the day comes, if it comes, you are finally ready to hear it.
Connecting with your inner-self (and the collective consciousness at large) is the biggest benefit of practicing silence yet there is still so much more. Sitting in intentional silence for even five to ten minutes everyday is calming – it reduces stress and helps you to feel more grounded. Silence improves your concentration and focus and allows you to gain higher quality results from your efforts. Silence awakens your senses. It increases your awareness to the surplus of noise that surrounds you. I’ve found after practicing silence for many years it has become a like massage or a time-out for my brain, a necessary and welcomed respite from the many distractions in the world. It is in silence that we hear the birds sing, and in music, it is the silence between the notes that give it emphasis and meaning.
There is another aspect of silence that I would like to address. It is not so much about the silence within you but rather the choice you have to exercise silence at appropriate moments like when a friend is spilling out their heart and it is your job to just listen rather than to advise, or in withholding judgment of others if it would diminish rather than enlighten their spirit, or by not joining in on the gossip-chain around the office.
Another time to use silence with great impact is when giving a speech or presentation and you want people to pay attention to what it is you have to say. I’m sure if you consider any great speaker, like Martin Luther King Jr. for example, you’ll often remember the silent moments as the most profound. There is a fierceness in silence – an awe of sorts that makes people stop and listen. You can employee it between sentences or before you answer an important question but the underlying message you put out is this: “I think carefully about what I want to say and what I have to say is important. I think you won’t want to miss it.” Silence creates a commanding presence impossible to deny.
I encourage you to practice silence in both forms and see for yourself what change your efforts will bring. Once you get started in the practice of silence I bet your day just won’t be the same without it!
“Live loud enough in your heart and there is no need to speak.”—Mark Nepo
1) Where can you incorporate more silence into your day?
2) How do you perceive the benefits of silence?
3) What are you willing to commit to?