Noise takes up room. Clatter and clamor can make any space feel crowded. Against a sudden onslaught of sound, the body hunches down, closing in to protect itself.
Silence, on the other hand, feels like spaciousness. My body responds to the quiet with an expansion of interior space, where lungs can fill to capacity, drawing a full, deep, calming breath.
A friend accustomed to the crowded city of Hong Kong once told me that sharing small apartments had taught her to create space with silence. Refraining from unnecessary talk or sound helped to ease the stress of tight living quarters.
Why would we refuse the expansiveness that silence offers? With our constant flow of media, we behave like children of the valley, accustomed to narrow views of what lies above and unnerved by the full dome of surrounding sky. In filling our lives with walls of sound, we deny ourselves the chance to experience the exhilarating infinity of creation and the specificity of it that we embody.
Beneath an expanse of stars we experience both our smallness and our place within the infinite universe. In a similar way, when we enter into silence we experience a moment as limitless and ourselves as part of what time cannot measure and space cannot contain.
Silence makes room for the unexpected. It allows us to listen for what we might otherwise miss. Silence is a space in which we can come to see ourselves as belonging, and to know ourselves as loved.
How do you experience silence? Is it stressful or relaxing? What do you notice about your interior life when you find a quiet moment?