Silence as a tool (Archived)

We live in a busy world. This busy-ness follows us home — into our lounge-rooms, bedrooms and even our bathrooms. We are bombarded with information through messenger services and information channels, through TV and radio and music and social media. The chatter is constant. Few of us enjoy more then a few seconds of silence from a flood of external stimulation.

At every bus stop, bus, train or tram — the view is largely the tops of people’s heads as they peer at a screen. They scroll through this or that, tapping and checking, messaging and updating. Most of us will also be familiar with that twitch we get when we’re waiting for a bus, or seated in a waiting room. You gaze around a bit, mind skimming across your to-do list, shopping list, dinner plans. Beneath these thoughts, a restlessness is rising. Sometimes it’s an urge to check to see if someone has responded. Other-times we reach for the phone to entertain ourselves for the minute or two or ten it takes for our name to be called, our bus to pull up or our friend to arrive.

A few generations ago, we would have sat there and waited. We might have made eye contact with someone, smiled, or struck up a conversation. We might have gazed into the distance, our minds wandered through playful and silly thoughts, skimming over various conversations we’ve had, picking away at a problem or dilemma.

We have lost the art of silence and daydreaming. How long can you wait for your friend or your bus to arrive before you reach for your phone? How long can you sit in public and just be in that moment, watching what’s happening around you, interacting with people with a smile or a glance?

Why do we do this? Perhaps we’re uncomfortable in a busy public setting. Perhaps we don’t much like our own company. Are we good company? We spend a lot of time playing through scenarios of things that haven’t happened yet. We ruminate over things that didn’t go the way we expected. We play out scenes that ‘should’ have happened, or might still happen. The chatter of our minds is endless and frustrating, so we self-medicate with external chatter interesting enough to drown out our internal chatter.

When we sit in stillness, without listening to music or reading, we allow our minds to wander. If our minds are soft and curious and unconstrained we can slip down strange and wonder-filled pathways. Unrelated concepts or new perspectives can click together, birthing quirky, creative ideas.

How often do you allow your mind to simply wander? How often do you silence the flow of external stimulation and allow your mind to day-dream and drift?

What strange, creative shores would your mind wash to? What solutions would roll to the surface from the depths of your mind? What ghosts could you lay to rest?

(Posted 9 Feb 2020. Follow me at: https://nicolewalshauthor.com/)

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