Longing for (and still resisting) silence

“A wave of longing has been building in our culture for some time, a growing desire to reclaim the Sacred Feminine as a central aspect of religious and spiritual experience. At the same time, life in this new millennium has reflected a dramatically increased desire for inner and outer peace, as well as the increasing challenges of attaining it. What my experience of the Sacred Feminine has shown me is that these two longings are connected…” Lynda Terry[1]

I woke up at 3am this morning f***ing terrified.  God knows why, but as I lay there, trying to breathe into it, all I could feel was this tightness somewhere in my solar plexus. Like a rock. Every ten minutes or so, whenever one of the trains that pass my house rattled by the window – my whole body would begin to silently scream. Mind racing: maybe I need to leave New York, maybe I need to do more yoga, maybe I need to surrender more deeply, maybe I need to call my sister…

Most things feel better by the light of day, but the morning brought with it a still greater awareness that – despite all the changes I have made in my life these three years – there is more to be done. My body is telling me that the rearranging is not over.

The truth is, I’m longing for silence but I don’t know how to get it. And – if I’m really honest – I’m also still resisting it. A mentor of mine recently pointed out that longing and resistance are close partners. Longing is actually a sweet, even beautiful feeling, and the resistance allows us to draw out the period of longing that proceeds surrender.

Whether that is true or not, this is what I know today: as I sit here tapping away in my Brooklyn apartment – the one I moved to because it was so much nicer than the last one – I can hear the jack hammering of builders next door, the growl of a motorcycle, the grinding of air conditioners, and that darned subway train (why didn’t they put it underground like the rest of them??!?)  But I also know that I can’t blame it all on Brooklyn; given the choice of silence over noise I often choose noise: Netflix, Pandora, Facebook…they’re all my friends.

Which leaves the question: if I have this deep longing for silence, why am I still resisting it so often? Is it really just to prolong the longing?  To me, it feels like an addiction, and addiction runs on fear. So this morning I sat down, meditated  – asking myself “Why am I afraid to embrace silence and the Sacred Feminine that comes with it?” and then wrote out what fears popped into my mind.

Sige’s blessing: may you be still, and know that you are Divine.

They came out like this:

  • There isn’t enough time
  • I won’t get noticed
  • I won’t get paid
  • I might be murdered

As crazy as it is, that’s where my mind is at: my desires to get stuff done, to be noticed in this world and to pay the bills – even the desire to live – are all pulling me away from silence. My brain wants me to think that if I shut my mouth I will lose all of those things. But, as Lynda Terry reminds me – Sige (Goddess of silence) is not nothing, She is the ALL that lies at the root of everything.

“…even Gaia, who births the manifest world, springs from Sige’s dark and endless stillness.”


This means that if I want to be creative, to be loving, or to be loved, I must begin with stillness. Just as the Big Bang was proceeded by the Void, so my very life must emerge from that place within me that is empty.

So, here is my pledge: I am going to do my best to surrender to silence, whatever that means. If it means I have to live in the countryside, so be it. If it means less abrupt changes: one morning a week without talking, putting down my iPod, meditating more, then I’m up for that too. This is not a mere rational decision – it is something that every cell in my body, and specifically my midriff apparently, is demanding. I’ve been ignoring that for long enough. It’s time to listen. And to shut my mouth for once.

Laura Paskell-Brown is a PhD student in psychology and a member of the core circle at Women of Spirit and Faith. She STILL lives in Brooklyn.

[1] Terry, L. (2005). The 11 Intentions: Invoking the Sacred Feminine as a Pathway to Inner Peace.

All references to Sige also from Terry’s book.

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