Let There Be… Silence – MKMMA Week 22

Silence is a funny thing. On the whole I think that most people’s experience with silence is pretty limited since we are flooded with so much distraction these days that contemplative solitude can be hard to come by. One of the funniest things about silence is how varied people’s responses to it can be.

I remember working with a lady at the acupuncture clinic a few years ago. Let’s call her Jen. Jen was presenting to the clinic with a few things that she was hoping we could help with. She had trouble sleeping, struggled with anxiety and suffered from tension headaches.

We talked about the role of lifestyle; about taking time to slow down and relax. We also talked about the role of acupuncture in the process and she was eager to begin. Once I had all of the needles in place I said, “Well, I’ll step out for your rest period while you relax and enjoy the quiet.”
“Step out?”, she said. “You mean you leave me here with needles?”
“Yes,” I said. “We leave the needles in place while you rest to maximize their effect.”
“For how long?”
“30 minutes…”
“30 MINUTES!?!?!?!”
“I can make it half an hour if you prefer…” I said jokingly.
“Oh, ha ha…”, she said… “Well it must be less than 30 minutes now… We’ve probably been talking for 2 minutes already, right?”, she said, desperately trying to negotiate.
“30 minutes…”, I replied, knowing that only 10 seconds had passed. “Just close your eyes and relax… Imagine being on a tropical beach… Just enjoy the quiet for a few minutes.”
“Well….. Ok….”, she said, still not totally convinced. “I’ll try…”

Jen was not the first person I had worked with who struggled to relax and enjoy the silence. Being able to let go, be in the moment and enjoy the stillness without being constantly distracted or busying ones self is a skill and many of us are out of practice.

I went to my desk to work on some paperwork while Jen sat. As I was working the office phone started to ring… and it was Jen’s name listed on the phone. I didn’t think much of it figuring that it was a husband wondering what time she would be leaving or asking to pick something up on the way home so I answered the phone.
“Healthy Balance Acupuncture Clinic… How Can I help you?”
Then from the other end I heard the words I’ll never forget… “Has it been 30 minutes yet?”
“Jen???”
“Yeah. Has it been 30 minutes yet?”

While sitting with needles in both hands she managed to get her cell phone out of her pocket, looked up the clinic number online then called for an update.
“It’s been 12 minutes, Jen.”
She sighed loudly. “How much longer, then?””Umm…. 18 minutes.”
Another sigh. “Well, don’t forget about the 2 minutes that we were talking.”, she said.

We both laughed about the exchange more than once. It was a struggle for Jen, especially at first, to sit quietly. Over time, though, she became more skilled and was able to quiet the chatter in her mind and ease the restlessness. Eventually she was even able to enjoy the quiet rest.

I’ve thought about Jen many times. What is so disturbing about quiet these days? Why is there so little of it? Why do we seem to make efforts to fill every waking moment with distraction, noise and chatter? What is in the silence that worries us so?

Is it that we might recognize our own lack of control over our thoughts?

Is it a restless feeling of not knowing what to do with ourselves?

Is it a fear that the absence of diversion may cause unresolved feelings to stir?

Is it not wanting to take control over the wandering of our own mind?

Is it restlessness? Struggle? Trauma?

What is there in the silence that so many will go to great lengths to avoid it? That it will be avoided to such an extent that extended silence is almost unheard of in our modern lifestyle?

Luke-trial.pngAs I pondered this I began to wonder if the answer, like many things in life, could be found in the words of Yoda. If you remember, when Luke was training with Yoda, (and if you don’t remember you should probably watch the movie again) Luke sensed a dark presence near a cave. Yoda directed him to enter and so Luke reached for his weapons to take them.
“You will not need those.”, Yoda said.
“Why? What’s in there?”, asked Luke.
“Only what you bring with you.”, was Yoda’s reply.

What if that is the element that can make silence and contemplation so uncomfortable? What if it is what we bring with us to the silence that drives us to busy ourselves with meaningless pursuits while the deeper corners of our own self remain locked away? What if it’s fear of facing our own self that feeds our insatiable appetite for distraction?

I consider my job done now as I have shared the question. I won’t presume to know the answer… Especially not for another person. I am going to search for the answer for myself, though, by spending the next few days in silent contemplation with no electronics, conversation or distractions. It’s time for me to enter the silence myself and find out exactly what I bring with me. I’ll see you on the other side of the silence…

~Daniel Hanscomkeep-calm-and-enjoy-the-silence.png

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22 thoughts on “Let There Be… Silence – MKMMA Week 22

    1. Daniel Hanscom Post author

      So kind of you to say, Wendy. I’m glad that you enjoyed it. The time of silence was a very insightful time for me. I learned a lot and it and I’ll be doing it again sometime when it feels right.

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  1. MasterKeyShirley

    Yes, yes, yes; another insightful post. I think we are indeed afraid of our own thoughts. I’m amazed at how much noise we seem to “need:” TV at gas pumps, brief bursts of music between micro-second pauses in a hockey game; the list is endless. Thanks for sharing your brilliant insights once again in an entertaining manner.

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    1. Daniel Hanscom Post author

      So nice of you, Shirley. I totally agree with you… We’ve created a situation where silence is so rare. It is a shame that it is so difficult to even have moments of silence here and there. I suppose it’s still possible, it just takes planning and effort for those of us who know the treasures that the silence holds. Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

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    1. Daniel Hanscom Post author

      Ha ha, Day! Then you must know what it was like for Jen to sit with the needles. So happy to hear that you have found the treasure in the silence. I hope that your extended silence was filled with insight. Thanks for stopping by.

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    1. Daniel Hanscom Post author

      The feeling of gratitude for our friendship and our mastermind is mutual, Rex. Anything that I have given I have received in equal measure, and then some! Thank you for your friendship… It is greatly appreciated.

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  2. mkmmaasambush

    I personally love thinking sometimes and being alone, without anything. The danger is that I like to daydream, and that’s not very helpful, so it always ends up feeling like a waste of time. So I prefer to read or listen to music when I have spare time…could it be that I feel that my own thoughts, left unfocused, are less helpful to me than those of other people? Food for serious thought…Thank you Daniel, for another soul-searching blog. πŸ™‚

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    1. Daniel Hanscom Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Sam. You bring up some interesting points about daydreaming. I think that it could certainly be an unfocused activity that doesn’t offer anything in return. On the other hand, though, if we are visualizing about our DMP and the future that we are creating we will make that future, and our future self, more real. It’s part of the blueprint builder, after all, to be thinking of the person you intend to become for 30 minutes daily. If unfocused “daydreaming” can be transformed into focused visualization you could probably increase how real your DMP feels and put real high-powered fuel into the tank. Thoughts?

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      1. mkmmaasambush

        Yes I think that’s an excellent idea – transforming unfocused daydreaming into focused visualization. I think that perhaps the daydreaming is a good gateway – because it can feel more natural than conscious visualization at first – then you gradually increase the focus until you’re increasing the feeling of the reality of your DMP. Maybe?

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      2. Daniel Hanscom Post author

        EXACTLY!!! The same skill that makes daydreaming fun and engaging can be used to make your DMP become more and more real. Sounds like an AWESOME experiment! I’d love to hear how it goes.

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    1. Daniel Hanscom Post author

      Yoda is DEFINITELY right! πŸ™‚ I think the part of sitting, silence, meditation that people get hung up on is that they think it should be easy right from the start. You are so right… we bring a lot of noise with us. Especially at the beginning. But it’s a process and the Law of Practice says that we will get better with time if we diligently practice. Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment!

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    1. Daniel Hanscom Post author

      It was a great experience that was filled with insight. I will be doing it again at some point when I feel that the time is right. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your stopping by.

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  3. Pingback: Looking Back – MKMMA Week 23 | LivingTheMasterKey

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