I haven't been saying much on here lately. And it's not because I haven't got anything in my head - rather the contrary, it's because my head is too full of thoughts. For weeks now, morning til night, I've been reading, studying, thinking, writing, thinking some more, reading again, thinking, writing… (and so on and so forth - you get the picture). It's a deluge of thought, and my mind will not be still.
A few years ago, someone I knew, who was writing a column for the local paper, wanted to post a piece on Silence. He gave the paper his column for the week, and what he had meant it to look like is this:
Unfortunately, the typesetter didn't quite get the memo, and set the page in standard style, filling in the empty space with STUFF (I can't quite remember what it was, might have been advertising). It rather spoiled the effect, or, as it were, had an effect of its own. We can't bear empty spaces, cannot tolerate silence.
This past weekend, on two separate occasions, I had the opportunity to practise silence. And the remarkable thing was that it was corporate silence - silence with other people. Twice, I sat in a room (well, once it was a church), among strangers for the most part, and everyone was completely still. Doing nothing but being silent. Meditation, contemplation. Silence. And it was powerful.
Now, on a daily basis, my life isn't particularly noisy as far as decibel level is concerned. I live in a quiet house with a rather quiet family; these days, I can hear the clock tick-tocking almost daily. But what is lacking is that inner silence, that space in which my mind has nothing else to do but be still. And that is what these spaces of corporate silence last weekend gave me a glimpse of. The discipline of sitting among others, in a space determined by others for a time period not decided on by me, just being silent - it fed my soul. The presence of the strangers around me helped me to the framework of stillness which my soul was craving.
Oh, my mind was still doing its hamster ball thing, aimlessly rolling here and there, running, running, running - but, actually, that was okay. I could just let it run its course of furry frenzy, smile indulgently at it, and keep sitting there - silent.
I did not come away from the experience with any profound insight, any solutions to personal, world or academic problems, or - as you can tell - the text of several perfect blog posts completely formulated in my mind. You see, that was not the point. The point of silence is not to come away with Something, although at times that happens, too. The point is to sit in Nothingness, in Silence, just for its own sake.
Life, the Universe, and the Hamster Ball of the Mind. I wish you, for today, a space of Silence.