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Simply Silence

In recent years, more and more people are choosing to spend their vacation at a monastery. Instead of Disney World and four-star hotels, they are opting for the solace they can find in the monastic community. Why? Because they are seeking peace. They are seeking serenity. They are seeking silence.

Silence. It seems we don't do very well with silence in our society. Instead, we try to pack every minute of every day with noise. When we are at home, we turn on the stereo or the TV. In the car, we turn on the radio or put in a CD. When we go for a walk or a jog, we take along our iPod.

Go downtown and we encounter the revving of engines, the squealing of tires, and the honking of horns. Go to the mall or a restaurant and we're greeted by the sound of music playing over the sound system. Everywhere we go there's noise. It seems the world has a distaste for silence.

We don't like silence. We seem to be intimidated by it. Perhaps we are even afraid of it. So we do everything we can to avoid it. But at what cost? What are we missing out on because of our aversion to silence? Are there benefits we could be enjoying from silence?

Silence gives us time to think. Silence allows us to reflect on life. Silence permits us to evaluate what's really important. Silence enables us to quiet our souls. It is in moments of silence that we can regroup, refocus and refuel.

Perhaps the monks at monasteries are on to something. They understand the value of silence. You may not be inclined to move to a monastery and take a vow of silence, but you may find that a few moments of silence here and there will greatly enrich your life. Here are a few simple suggestions for incorporating moments of silence into your life.

Eliminate the ambient noise of the media. Turn off the television for an hour or perhaps for an entire evening. When driving, resist the urge to turn on the stereo. This does not need to be for a prolonged period, nor does it have to be every time. But on occasion, consider limiting the amount of media noise to which you are subjected. At first, you may be uncomfortable with the silence. But as you grow accustomed to it, you will learn to value it.

Go for a nature walk. You can escape from the noise of everyday life and enjoy some time in a natural environment. If you are in a secluded location, perhaps the only noise you will hear will be the whistling of birds, the rustling of leaves, and the wind blowing through the trees. For many people, this can be a peaceful, serene, and even spiritual experience. You could take advantage of this silence by reflecting on life, slowing your pace, and praying or meditating.

Plan a weekend get-away. You could make use of a local resort or a cabin in the woods. The location is not as important as getting away from the busyness that normally consumes your thoughts. Leave your work at home and take only the essentials. If you have children, consider leaving them with other family members or friends. In this way, you can quiet your soul along with your environment.

Practice silence every day. Silence does not always require the absence of noise. While that can be helpful, silence is really about calming your mind and soul. You can experience this kind of silence even on the busiest street corner in town. So intentionally carve out moments when you can sit back, put your feet up, and dream. Set aside your worries long enough to consider what you value in life and reflect on reasons to be grateful. You may even want to incorporate some deep breathing or stretching exercises to help you experience these moments of silence.

In today's fast-paced always-on-the-go lifestyle, moments of silence can be hard to come by. But by purposefully seeking to create those moments in your life, you can discover the rich benefits of silence.

 by T Walker
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