As a young child, I was considered extremely talkative, often calling for my parents and teachers to repeat the well-known “Speech is silver, silence is golden.” Most often, my nonchalant response to this was, “I don’t want gold, I like silver!” That this response was often kept within the confines of my mind is another thing!
Over the years however, as a keen observer of people and things around me, of the various things that intrigued me, one was silence. And I did realise over time, that silence indeed speaks out louder than words.
Silence has been experienced by us as an expression for a number of situations throughout our lives. When young children are caught having broken that window pane over a fantastic cricket shot off the bat, the response is silence. Homework not done and caught by the teacher in class is responded to with silence. A sad situation, a bad mood too is often responded to with silence.
Besides helplessness, sorrow, despair, indifference and cluelessness, silence also finds its expressions in awe, compassion, joy, composure, restraint, faith, self-assurance and where not!
If we think of it, Silence is probably the aspect of nothingness that seamlessly finds its way into everything. We are part of it exactly in the same way as it is an integral part of us, and yet we defend, dodge and run away from it.
I have come across a number of people who say that they find it impossible to sit still in silence and do nothing to the extent of considering it torturous. There are many people who find silence so discomforting, that they switch on their television sets or music systems the moment they get home, irrespective of whether they are listening or not. It is done just to fill in the empty space with something.
A recent article in a well-known newspaper mentioned findings of a research, where people were asked to sit silently without doing anything for 15 minutes. Shockingly, many people preferred to take mild shocks rather than bear the “torture” of silence. The article ended stating that people by and large preferred to take a negative stimulus to no stimulus at all.
On a larger scale, it means that today we are so uncomfortable with silence, that we’d rather do things that are destructive – to the self or otherwise, just so that we don’t have to deal with silence. It also means that we’d rather occupy ourselves with negative thoughts, rather than no thoughts at all. This is indeed an alarming trend!
Silence isn’t just about no noise being there. It is about comfort – with oneself, with the environment and with the happenings around. It is the space where you get acquainted with yourself, so you know the real you, your feelings, your values, your purpose. It is the space that gives you your ideas and ideals and your inspirations. It is what gives you clarity in life. It also expands your awareness, for it is in this silence of the mind that we observe without reacting.
We believe the sounds outside will drown the silence and give us our answers, but the questions are raised in this silence, and their answers can be got through this very silence. Silence is not just the aspect of nothingness that finds its way into everything; it is nothingness with the potential of giving you everything!
Author – Vineeta Gupta
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