Silence is Golden and Extremely Painful

Silence and Solitude as the furnace of transformation.

What would happen if we embraced being alone, in quiet, as an opportunity to become aware of our own selves, our interests, patterns and beliefs?I’ve been profoundly affected by a seemingly simple occurrence, triggered unknowingly by my comic book anthology group, as we get ready for our next publication. You see, we decided to work with a particular topic… and the topic we voted on is Silence.  **This post originally appeared in January 2012, on my former blog.**

As I started to contemplate how I could weave this topic into a short story, I uncovered not only lyrics to songs (Sounds of Silence, Enjoy the Silence etc.) but that “going into the silence” is exactly what I’m experiencing in my life right now, on several levels. And that silence is probably one of the most difficult and yet most profound tools available to us.

I used to be the kind of person who worked a full time job, managed a volunteer program for a non-profit arts group AND simultaneously worked (volunteered) to promote/enlarge/expand a spiritual group that I had been studying with for quite some time. On top of that, I was attending to my horse religiously. I was quite busy.

But now, I’ve chosen to work toward the realization of dream (a successful coaching practice as well as writing a graphic novel) which requires a lot of time in solitude, in contemplation, in learning, and in listening. As I write my graphic novel, I spend even more time in solitude, envisioning what obstacles my characters must over come and how they themselves must transform. I’m spending a great deal of time alone … and it feels downright uncomfortable.

I realize that my preoccupation with activities, while fruitful, were also preventing me from being present with myself. I never gave myself the opportunity to hear me, to see me, which then, of course, meant that I was not creating space for ME to be present.

But even with this awareness, I’m still experiencing the discomfort, and sometimes am terrified by silence’s vast emptiness.

Why am I afraid?

Silence strips away the distractions of life which anesthetize us from our feelings … that our lives are empty, that we perhaps are “nothing”, that our lives amount to nothing. It is this nothingness that I face in my seclusion, a feeling so abhorrent that I feel hopeless, insecure, despairing…everything in me wants to run to my distractions so that I can forget my nothingness and make myself believe (and prove to the world) that I am worth something.

An article written by W. David Phillips, on Solitude as a Spiritual Practice, sums up exactly how I feel when I am in seclusion:

“As soon as I decide to stay in my solitude, confusing ideas, disturbing images, wild fantasies, and weird associations jump about in my mind like monkeys in a banana tree. Anger and greed begin to show their ugly faces. I give long, hostile speeches to my enemies and dream lustful dreams in which I am wealthy, influential, and very attractive – or poor, ugly and in need of immediate consolation. Thus I try again to run from the dark abyss of my nothingness and restore my false self in all its vainglory.”

Most people experience this void in our souls that we fill with other people, noise, activities, possessions. But SILENCE is the gatekeeper to WISDOM and the path to wisdom is not meant to be easy.

To go into the silence is to find the place where the old self dies and the new self is reborn and re-emerges. To go into the silence is to greet oneself – naked and vulnerable and probably even broken – to begin the process of renewal. I realize that this process is needed if we are to develop a true friendship with ourselves, without which not much is possible.

I understand the challenge is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my place of retreat, until all of my demons grow tired of their roaring and lose their voice.

January 2013 Update:  I’ve come to understand and be OK with solitude, in fact I relish it now. In solitude, I can hear my limiting beliefs rise up and shout that I’m not good, successful, brave enough; however, the solitude gives me the opportunity to recognize their voices, so I get the opportunity to say: This is not true. Without the ability to distinctly hear our limiting beliefs, we will never be able to achieve our dreams. This is the gift of being in silence.

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4 comments

  1. Kat says:

    Great post on the challenges and rewards of silence and quiet time! I usually welcome solitude, but sometimes, when some disappointment in another part of my life has coloured my perceptions with self-doubt, that solitude and silence can, indeed, be a challenge. Wishing you the best on the journey–and good luck with the Graphic Novel as well!

    • lindamags says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read it, and for sharing your experiences with solitude! I hope that you’re able to continue going into the silence so that you can really be with your self-doubt and transform it. And thanks for your well-wishes on my graphic novel!!

  2. Patti Pippen says:

    How gratifying to read this blogpost. I am craving a little bit of silence and solitude more and more. The phrase that rises up and grabs me in your blog post is this:
    “I understand the challenge is to persevere in my solitude, to stay in my place of retreat, until all of my demons grow tired of their roaring and lose their voice.”

    My demons are not roaring so much now as they are complaining and grumbling. I am starting to understand that they can be tamed and maybe then even banished. Namaste!

    XOXO,
    Patti

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