“By becoming completely silent, we can pay full attention to other people, understand the true meanings of their speech, and connect with them and our inner beings and nature at the deepest level.” – Kuldip K. Rai in Inspire, Perspire, and Go Higher, Volume 1:111 Ways, Disciplines, Exercises, Short Bios, and Jokes with Lessons to Inspire and Motivate You
“Hello darkness, my old friend / I’ve come to talk with you again / Because a vision softly creeping / Left its seeds while I was sleeping / And the vision that was planted in my brain / Still remains / Within the sound of silence.”
I am not sure if you are singing while reading those lines. It came from the song, “Sound of Silence,” written by Paul Simon and released on October 19, 1964.
When I was writing this piece, I was hearing the words of the song, “When You Say Nothing at All,” a country song written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. I know there were three different interpretations before Irish pop singer Ronan Keating sang it in 1999. It became a number-one hit in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand.
The first four lines go this way: “It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart / Without saying a word, you can light up the dark / Try as I may, I can never explain / What I hear when you don’t say a thing.”
Silence speaks volumes and from silence comes volumes. “Words by themselves are filler not substance,” someone said. “To find the right word requires silence not further verbiage. From the right thought comes the words. Once the right word is found, the rest comes garbage.
“Silence, if done right, is the height of communication,” he continued. “The deepest feeling can only be communicated in silence. Silence is not the absence of words or sound, it is the presence of the Almighty within us and hence is the medium of deep thought, from which springs forth in speech and in writing, the true eloquence of the single word, properly used the slight intonation, the right pitch and the subtle touch of inflection can convey both authority and credibility.”
The sign “Silence!” in a hospital shields the quiet mysterious knitting up of bodies and nerves. “Silence!” in a radio station safeguards a delicately tuned traffic with infinite space. In a library, “Silence!” whispers of the deep communion of mind with mind, the calm flowering of thoughts.
Thus, does silence speak of healing, of messages from space, and of the distilling of wisdom.
One day, a farmer was assisting in the seasonal chore of stocking an icehouse when he lost his watch. Loudly bewailing his misfortune, he set about with his lamp and rake hunting for it in the sawdust on the icehouse floor. His companions joined him in the search, but their clamorous seeking failed to find the missing watch.
When the men went out for lunch, a small boy slipped quietly into the icehouse – and found the watch. Asked by the astonished owner how he had done it, the youngster replied, “Well, sir, I just laid down on the sawdust and kept very still and soon I heard the watch ticking.”
Udayakumar D.S. is right. In Fearless and Free: How One Man Changed my Life, he wrote: “Silence enables us to listen to ourselves. To think beyond limitations. It calms the nerves. Gives a sense of freedom.”
Mehmet Murat Ildan agrees. “You need a peaceful silence to achieve something important because right thoughts and right plans require attention and noise is the enemy of attention, crowds are the enemy of attention,” he said.
On another occasion, Ildan also said, “If you have forgotten the eternal peace of silence, go to a place where silence is in infinite stillness and feel that eternal peace again in your whole soul!”
Keeping yourself silent does you more good than harm, health wise. Starr Daily, a man who knows much about the art of spiritual healing, once said: “To my knowledge, no man or woman of my acquaintance who knows how to practice silence and does it, has ever been sick.”
“Surely, the practice of silence is more soothing and healing than most medicines,” said Charles L. Allen and cited the statement of the great scientist Pascal who said, “After observing humankind over a long period of years, I came to the conclusion that one of man’s great troubles is his inability to be still.”
Itayi Garande also subscribes to the idea. “Silence can have tremendous healing power, but this should not be confused with loneliness,” she wrote in Shattered Heart: Overcoming Death, Loss, Breakup, and Separation.
Christina Feldman considered silence as a refuge. “There are times in our life when our world falls apart, when we are overwhelmed by the intensity of events, when we feel alienated, and when our life seems to make no sense,” she said.
“In those moments when we feel most adrift and confused, silence offers a sanctuary of renewal. In moments of confusion and complexity we are tempted to do more, to act, to find explanations, to speak. If we listen to our heart, we come to know the wisdom of being still. We calm the turmoil of our mind, feeling our feet on the earth, and connecting once more with a depth of inner silence that can guide us, heal us, and restore us.”
Finally, remember this: “In silence, our senses come alive. We see the beauty and taste the sweetness of the air we breathe,” wrote Margo Vader in Take a Little Soul Time.