Silence is a relief for someone who talks for a living. It’s so much more than this, but one of the greatest benefits of taking 1.5 days of silence last weekend is that I got to rest my mouth. As I rested my mouth, I realized that my mind started to rest as well.
I work with my mouth Monday through Friday. From 8 a.m. in the morning until 5 or 6 in the evening, I’m coaching clients. To be precise, I use a hybrid of coaching and consulting with clients of all ages across the United States and abroad. When I’m coaching, I listen 3/4 of the time and talk 1/4 of the time. When I’m consulting, I talk 3/4 of the time and listen 1/4 of the time. In my current role I do more consulting than coaching, which means I talk A LOT during the week.
Silence is a relief for someone who helps people solve career-related challenges all week long. Everyone I speak with has a gap between where they are and where they want to be. I wonder what would happen if I asked each of my clients to sit silently with me during our 50 minutes?
I did this once. I had a session with a client who was really stressed out. We started the call with some deep breathing to help her (and me) get grounded. She started talking and I soon had an intuitive hit that we really should be on the call in silence. I recommended this to her. We each set our phones down, but stayed on the call. I think that 45 minutes was the best coaching I’ve ever done. Silence was a risk then. It was non-conforming. It’s not what you do for an entire coaching call. But it worked. It shifted my client. It shifted me by being more daring and experimental in my approach.
Another awareness I had in Silence is that I go missing during a lot of my daily activities. When I prepared food and cooked in silence, I was there. All there. I wasn’t mentally or emotionally ahead of planning, chopping or sauteing; I wasn’t ahead of the aroma of chopped onion sizzling in olive oil, or the texture and taste of my salad and butternut squash ravioli with tomato sauce and basil. I was in the slow lane, the savor zone. I was connected with my surroundings and myself.
My sits were longer. I was pulled by the urge to answer a text. I talked to my cat, GiGi, accidentally. But she liked our silence better. Winter in Minnesota is a good time for silence. So is any place and any moment.
I think Emerson’s teachings about self-reliance we’ve been reading. How are we to know the power which resides in us if we don’t know Silence? How are we to listen the “absolutely trustworthy seated at our heart” if we fill our lives with sound and motion? How are we to know “what we must do” if we pay more attention to “what the people must think?”
It is definitely non-conformist to practice silence in a world overflowing with noise.
Silence is where we meet Consciousness and build self-reliance. In silence every truth is true.