Since writing The Discipline of Silence, Part I and Part II, the topic continually comes up in conversation. But instead of hearing a desire for more silence, I hear how people “can’t” stand silence and how literal silence really isn’t possible anyway. These comments seem to be saying, “Why bother?”
Few people can ever truly experience total “absence of sound,” the definition of silence. So, after several of these “silence” conversations, I realized that taking time to clarify silence a bit more might help address the “Why bother?” implication.
My favorite times of silence are bike rides, running, hiking, kayaking, and mornings on my deck. These times are not absent of sound, but they are peaceful and quiet.
Essentially, when someone develops a discipline of silence, he/she really learns to appreciate peace and quiet along with the benefits of regularly pending time there. Spending time in peace and quiet involves reducing or eliminating unnatural sounds so that natural sounds (breathing, birds, footsteps, wind, etc.) are mostly what’s heard.
In other words, a discipline of silence means intentionally choosing not to bring noise into the equation. It means choosing to not talk, play music or watch television. It means not introducing unnecessary sounds (keeping certain things silent) and instead existing in a quiet and peaceful arena.
Realizing that the goal in a discipline of silence is really peace and quiet, not literal silence, helps understand how to achieve a true discipline of silence.
A discipline of silence allows you to think and to process life. Developing a discipline of silence means making a regular practice of simply existing with the natural sounds of life. It involves thoughts being allowed to move freely without little outside influence.
When Rick at Planned Peasanthood and I decided to simultaneously post on the discipline of silence, my objective was to show the value of the discipline. I now realize (mostly after reading Rick’s posts) that my own discipline of silence has developed into more of an active quiet rather than a true discipline of silence.
Let me explain. My life exists at a slower pace and quieter volume than that of most people. Outside of “TV time,” which is minimal, my house is generally quiet. Sure, there’s the sounds of life such as my oldest playing piano or French horn or my youngest moving from one activity to another, but we don’t have the radio or television on “for noise.”
I spend much of my time in my office or kitchen or on my deck writing, researching or studying, and I do so in relative quiet. But, I realized that I am always doing something during quiet times, more like quiet activity than disciplined silence.
I’m often writing, reading or talking, but rarely just sitting and allowing my thoughts and my body to just be still. In that, my own discipline of silence requires growth.
Instead of continually taking in and then regurgitating information, I need to spend time processing. I need to consider how the information I encounters fits into my life and, more importantly, I need to weigh it against the Truth of God’s Word.
Amplifying silence means taking time to “Let be and be still…” as suggested by the Amplified Version of Psalm 46:10. Seeing this verse in a variety of versions helps, so check out the black and white graphic in this post (click on the graphic to enlarge it).
The depth of this verse’s meaning truly gets at the goal of a discipline of silence: Deliberately choosing to think and to process life on a regular basis in as peaceful and as quiet of an atmosphere as possible. Just existing in stillness and letting all else simply be without you for a while. Take time to weigh your own discipline of silence (or lack thereof) against the truth in this Psalm.
DISCUSSION: How does Psalm 46:10 help in encourage you to amplify the discipline of silence in your life?