Originally Posted Spring 2008
‘Silence’ from www.massimochiodi.com/illustrations.htm
People are living in a fast paced world and always have to be active. This amount of activity reflects in chaotic noise. There is a belief that silence is a form of laziness and therefore is a negative thing.
Western culture brings forth the attitude of more work: more money: big play. This big play results in large car stereos, big trucks with loud engines, and the new and latest cell phone that are always ringing. Noise is found everywhere; walking into lobbies at doctor and dentist offices, elevators, and restaurants. Our society has made it clear that we are uncomfortable with silence and what it may bring.
Silence can mean many things and take many forms. There is silence in which you can create; a time for relaxation. This quiet calmness can diminish the harsh effects that noise brings; headaches, stress, hearing loss…just to name a few. Noise also allows us to avoid any time in which we get time to self reflect. With silence the mind can focus and branch out over new thoughts. Buddhists embrace silence as a part of their meditation practice. New discoveries can be found while experiencing silence.
There is also silence which is forced; a form of punishment or anger. Even without words or communication, silence can portray emotions. When people are angry they often use ‘the silent treatment’ to inflict guilt on to the other person. Or if a child has disobeyed, they may be told to go sit in the corner and be quiet. Both of these are strong messages. The interesting thing about forced silence is that it may be the only silence many people experience. For this reason, this silence can still be put to use, for self reflection of bad action has occurred.
Awkward silence often forces people to branch out and open themselves up. Most cannot stand the sound of awkward silence and quickly react to change it. This form of silence clearly expresses society’s uncomfortable relationship with silence. Possibly if silence was more common, standing alone with a person you just met would not be as awkward.
Shyness is often paired with quiet or silent. A shy person may be looked down on and never really known. However, a shy person may have the brightest ideas and be the wittiest of the bunch. Silence is not paired with stupidity or meant to be degrading; a common misconception.
There are people who are trying to spread the awareness of silence. People want to get away from the city, and go out to the country where it is quiet. Silence is hard to find, but nature seems to be the best source; away from the chaotic life people live today. Silence after all is only valued to the extent in which people can find its uses in its truest forms.
Ensure that each person has sound proofed their car, home, and other places that projects obscene noise. This way only their noise is heard by them and is no longer a distraction to the public. Also, have available to the public silent meditation halls, a place where silence can always be found.
Photo from www.lifedynamix.com
To ensure a more silent environment also practice the virtues of simplicity (#) and slowness (#). A more simple and slow life may result in one quieter as well. Educate (#) with an emphasis that silence can bring about mindfulness.