Finding Stillness in a Torrent of Noise
We spend our lives seeking stillness in a torrent of noise.
Everything was going to calm down this week. We were going to settle our primary disputes by expressing ourselves and making decisions with an election.
It seems like we work ourselves into a frenzy by allowing our emotions and our ideas to push us into arguing.
Many of us look for opportunities to listen to sacred stillness in our everyday lives. We cannot hear ourselves think and would like to follow contemplative practices which help us find stillness in which to listen. Political campaigns tend to make those opportunities disappear by filling our lives with noise.
We should have known the torrent of noise would not be silenced by voting in an election. Our world, our society, our culture make listening difficult. Many of us fill our lives with noise and cannot understand why it is so difficult for us to find stillness.
The torrent of noise makes it particularly challenging for us to listen. We cannot listen to the sacred stillness within us. The noise drowns out the stillness in the world around us.
My struggle is not limited to trying to listen in torrent of the noise all around me. As I try to practice contemplative listening I begin to realize the noise is within me. My mind keeps feeding me things to consider and analyze. My heart draws me into memories and regrets from the past and aspirations and fantasies about the future.
We need to intentionally develop listening in our lives.
Is there part of our lives which is conducive to contemplative listening? When does listening to sacred stillness fit into our crowded, noisy schedules?
Where can we find stillness in this torrent of noise?
Stillness in a Torrent of Noise
Some of us are afraid of stillness. We experience the noise in our lives as proving we are alive. Stillness, we believe, is a sign of death and dying. It makes us uncomfortable.
We have grown accustomed to living our lives immersed in noise. It is easy for us to experience the torrent of noise as part of the texture of our lives. We forget living without stillness is like living without breathing.
A practice of listening to sacred stillness is learning to recognize and live in a new environment. As we strengthen our ability to listen to stillness we become more at home in it.
How can we learn to set aside our fears and feel at home in stillness? For me, the first step is remembering and reimagining what sacred stillness sounds like.
We need to find ways to clear away the clutter of noise in our lives so we can experience sacred stillness.
First, we will probably need to find a place where we can spend some uninterrupted time by ourselves. It is easy for us to be distracted by other people as we begin.
We also need to set aside the background noises to which we have become accustomed. It might help to have a good set of headphones to cancel the outside noise. We can take other steps to cancel the noise within us.
How will we deal with the distractions within us? Before we begin our practice, we choose a word to remind us of our intention to listen to the stillness more than the noise. When I get distracted during my practice, I gently remember my word and return to listening to the stillness.
Our practice is not about remembering what we hear in the stillness.
Stillness in a Torrent of Noise Changes Us
Listening to sacred stillness works within us. As we practice contemplative listening we tend to become more effective listeners. Taking time to listen to sacred stillness each day helps us begin to feel more comfortable with stillness.
Gradually, over time, we remember what it is to fee at home in stillness. Many of us start to recognize the torrent of noise in our lives is an obstacle to our living our best lives.
Listening to sacred stillness teaches us how to deal with the noise in our lives.
Other people may recognize the changes in us before we do. They may appreciate how well we are able to listen, or the ways we are becoming more patient. We may develop a greater tolerance for stillness in our everyday lives. Some of us will become more willing to explore the ways we are different from other people.
Our practice of listening to sacred stillness in a torrent of noise is not something we can measure or quantify. As we take time to listen the changes will grow in us whether we see them or not.
Each day will be a step toward where we are going on our unplanned journey.
Stillness in a Torrent of Noise Changes the World Around Us
Our practice of listening to sacred stillness changes the world because it changes us from the inside out.
We begin to experience the world in new ways because we take time to listen. Learning to listen helps us grow into our true selves. People and situations which we used to experience as interruptions are revealed to be opportunities to listen.
As we become listeners we learn to set aside or divert the torrent of noise which used to get in our way. Our listening practice helps us pay attention to ourselves, the people we meet, and the world around us well.
Each time we practice listening to stillness in the middle of a torrent of noise we hear something new. Our practice teaches us how to listen authentically from within ourselves.
We practice listening to the sacred stillness within us and world around us and the stillness changes us.
When will we practice listening to sacred stillness in a torrent of noise today?
How is our practice of listening to stillness in a torrent of noise already at work in us and in the world around us?
[Image by kozemchuk]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He has served as an assistant district attorney, an associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.