What do I find in the silence?

Our lives can be very noisy.  Have you noticed?  Traffic, dogs, neighbors, social media, the news; often times bombarded by noise.  It seems to have become a constant in our society and technology isn’t making it quieter.  Do people prefer the noise rather than the stillness?  Busy, busy, busy keeps us from ourselves.  I speak not only of the external noise but the internal noise as well.  Have you noticed that thoughts, opinions and judgments are always a flurry within ourselves?  Often times like a fiery nor’easter.  Wherein lies the stillness of your self?

In October I attended a 7 day silent meditation retreat.  No phones, no computer, no talking except for when I was in a staff meeting for about 30 minutes a day, still too much talking for the task at hand.  Silence ….. all day in the midst of 35 other participants; during meals, exercise, walks and meditation.  We awoke at 4 am.  I found that to be the noisiest time of the day but not from my fellow participants slowly walking to and from the bathroom or to the dining hall to grab a cup of coffee before our first meditation.  All the noise was coming from my ego “Tell me again, why the hell am I up at this hour, I only got 5 hours of sleep?” Yammer yammer yammer.  Did I really think this retreat would be silent? Ha ha ha.

What am I seeking in the silence?  As my thoughts, beliefs and perspectives all reveal themselves it’s an opportunity to practice just listening.   As the days progressed at the retreat the noise level slowed down.  This is the practice of mindful awareness better stated as “be here now”.  Becoming fully present while sitting in meditation, walking in meditation, eating, brushing my teeth, cleaning the monastery, deep listening.  They like to call it ‘waking up’.  Waking up to all the noise. Waking up to the silence.  Waking up to my bullshit.  Waking up my compassion.

I have been on the path of listening for many many years.  The more I listen the deeper my listening becomes.  My 30 minute daily meditation practice supports my listening.  I am able to hear myself more clearly.  I am able to discern through the noise.  This is listening with intention, with deep awareness and with an open heart.  In my listening I find compassion.  My compassion has become a practice.

What do I find in this compassion?  I find a calm stream of peace that is ever flowing until, of course, I let it be interrupted by the noise.  I find comfort in it’s depth.  It is never ending and cannot be measured by any newfangled technology.  It is accepting of who I am in the moment without judgment or banter. It’s nutritious.  It feeds me throughout the day and filters into my relationships with others.  It offers space before I have a chance to react emotionally.

Through the nurturance of this practice called compassion, it has offered me a choice point.  The choice; banter and be noisy or listen and greet with compassion.

Is it time to let go of the noise?  Is it time to just listen?  Is it time to embrace your compassion?  The choice is always ours in this moment called now.

Learn more about fostering self-compassion.