The Art of Silence

If I cast my eye over my writings for the past 2 years (poetry and creative), the subject of silence, solitude and solace, weighs heavy over the pages. When I then received an article from tweetspeakpoetryBook Club Announcement: The Art of Stillness which discusses a new book by Pico Iyer:  The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere (TED Books). I had pause to delve back into my writings and cast my net wider, across the subject of being silent in a noisy world, and how we need to learnt to cultivate, this lost art of being silent in a frenetic noisy world.

Thoughts, visions, imagery; evoking pictures of silence
Be silent, listen to your heartbeat, and just be
Silence; sometimes the loudest words are the ones not spoken

The writer of the tweetspeak article, LW Lindquist, speaks of the “space between our thoughts”. The importance of the said versus the unsaid, the importance of what is not said, in the moments of silence, which can carry more weight. It is this quest for the power of silence and the solace of the silence, which has been discussed by the likes of Marcel Proust, Mahatma Gandhi, Emily Dickinson and Josef Pieper (amongst others), who have found richness in stillness. The incredible insight that comes with making time for stillness.

In a TED talk by Pico Iyer: The art of stillness  he speaks about:

Our world of constant movement and distraction,
and he teases out strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes
out of every day, or a few days out of every season.

If you feel overwhelmed by the demands of the constant chase and rush, that our society at times demands of us, then I encourage you to devote 15 minutes of your rushed day, and listen to Pico, and then reflect, in silence.

During Leonard Cohen’s five year stay at a Zen monastery, he wrote the poems for his book: The Book of Longing, and he was also joined for a while by Pico Iyer, who writes in his book the Art of Stillness, that Cohen’s “name in the monastery, Jikan, referred to the silence between two thoughts.” It is worth stopping what you are doing and be invited into his (Cohen’) world of beauty, women, and lonesome hours. It is an emotional journey, honest and direct, still, and sometimes lost.

Decades before the Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, sat contemplating on how we came to lose our ability to relax and be, and how it could be reclaimed. The very institutions of learning, were once intended as a mecca of “leisure” and contemplative activity, presently prepare us for a lifetime of industrialized conformity.

Josef Pieper (German Philosopher  May 4, 1904–November 6, 1997) on his model  most of the three types of work: work as activity, work as effort, and work as social contribution, and how against the contrast of each a different core aspect of leisure is revealed.

Against the exclusiveness of the paradigm of work as activity
there is leisure as “non-activity” — an inner absence of preoccupation,
a calm, an ability to let things go, to be quiet.

A few years back when I was sitting relaxing with my wife one Sunday afternoon, she commented:

I’m there, you’re there
We are silent in each other’s presence

Each engaged in our own thoughts/activities, but still at one; it inspired me to pen a sonnet: The Sonnet of Silent Conversations

the solace in the silence
where words are not needed to uncover
the hidden messages of compliance

The silence echoes around the enclosed walls of our minds, encouraging us to break down the alienation and find solace in the silence, and learn the importance of being silent, quiet, amongst those we feel close to, and then taking this silence out into the rushed and frenetic world in which we live. This can help us to slow down in this age of constant movement and immediate gratification. When speed is king, anyone or anything that gets its way, slows the pace down, becomes the enemy. Thanks to speed, we are living in the age of rage. That too is ironic, the fast pace of life alienates more than the comfort we can find in silence.

By opting out we do not have to drop out.

The Solace in the Silence

One thought on “The Art of Silence

  1. Pingback: Down to the River | mikesnexus

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