Silence is something like an endangered species. Gunilla Norris
I have spent most of my life running from one activity to another, taking little time to experience the quiet of silence. I have finally learned that silence is my tuning fork. When I stop and am still my fragmented parts come together. It is in silence that I renew and reenergize myself, giving me the ability to fully experience life.
I’ve always considered myself to be an extrovert. Now as I age I’m beginning to believe I was a trained extrovert. Coming from a family of extroverts, my way to be seen in my family was to model their behavior. Now as I embrace my need for silence, I find peace in a more contemplative life. Is it age? Or, am I finally coming home to who I am meant to be? Probably a bit of both.
Mary Sharratt, in her recent book A Book of Silence describes two different reasons for moving toward a more contemplative life.
Religious or eremitc silence, not just in the Christian tradition but in Buddhism as well, is about inner emptiness–emptying the mind and the body of desires, being purged and therefore pure: a kind of blank, a tabula rasa, on which the divine can inscribe itself. It is a discipline of self-emptying, or, to use a theological term, of kenosis, self-outpouring. Whereas romanticism uses silence to exactly the opposite ends: to shore up and strengthen the boundaries of the self; to make a person less permeable to the Other; to assert the ego against the construction and expectations of society; to enable an individual to establish autonomous freedom and an authentic voice. Rather than self-emptying, it seeks full-fill-ment.
I see myself in both of these descriptions. My meditative practice is about emptying myself so I can listen to my Divine wisdom. I can also fully relate to the second description. Living a more contemplative life has freed me from other’s expectations. I have been able to hear, more deeply, my authentic voice. When I let go of trying to please the voices and expectations of others, I find a freedom to live my life fully.