After summer of immersing in the quiet of nature, in the space that I occupy most naturally, it feels as if I am now breaking a fast. By writing about it, I have broken the silence. But I try to approach my title gently and rather than bend it's meaning, I hope to embrace it.
I see silence as the right topic to start this autumn. My mental calendar follows my children's school year, so for me, this time is always a start of something new. A beginning. There is a new energy after a summer of withdrawal. The calendar of my emotions and my soul however follows the four seasons. Though here in Malaysia it is beautiful evergreen tropics, inside me it is time for crispier evenings, leaves to turn vivid colours, shorter days and as the birds prepare to leave, I prepare to look inwards, to check in; what has left? what new has come in?
For me silence is a place to gather my energies, to find the perimeters of my being. I am lucky I regularly get to do this in Finland, in the clean, pristine forests and on it’s breathtaking seaside. As I walk in the nature alone, in silence, I walk into myself. Silence in Finland is our native language. It comes to us naturally. The silence in Finland is so clear that you can hear it, as my Finnish friend says. And you can. We like to beat ourselves about it, not been able to talk when needed to.. what does the world think about us… such quiet mob.. But I think there is a real spiritual aspect to this ability to be quiet. We don’t need Asian philosophies or yoga to teach us that. We don't need words to describe it. We already know.
I see silence as a withdrawal and refraining. Not to act on the urges and impulses, not to go with the noise of the world. To give space and to take space. Silence is a beautiful state of stillness, a state of being where these two; the mind and the soul, connects. Neither demanding anything from the other but staying truly present.
In silence I can find inner spaciousness. And yet, it is this inner space that is a prerequisite for truly quieten the mind. I have been a keen novice in yoga some years and I have come to learn that even in its physical form; the practise of postures and breathing, it has all along been about creating this space inside me, in order to reach the silence within.
I strongly believe that it is only through the silence that I can really see and sense the world around me. And it is only through silence that I can then begin to express how the world looks to me. To become creative about it. It is only through silence that I can then come out to the world and be ok about it. Be me. It is like a wave, to withdraw and to come out. Both equally needed, both equally valuable and if timed right, both equally joyful experiences.
I have tried to understand much of the advice I read and receive about blogging and photography. “Say something daily, share your pictures daily or if you must, weekly. Be seen! Talk in every direction, all the time”. I know many who do this and many who are very good at it. They are flying on endless social online and offline platforms. And I understand, its the name of the game. Its the business.
But still I can’t.
Because for years I use to do it in life. Run in all directions. I embraced the noise and the distraction. I thought thats the answer. But I wasn’t good at it. I couldn’t keep up. I felt lousy and rotten inside. Numb. I didn’t know myself and I doubt that I was the best I can be.
I made a deliberate choice to approach life the other way round. Through slow, intentional steps and pauses. In yoga, there is a gap that one learns to embrace between every breath, a tiny moment when nothing happens. The writer Pico Iyer talks of the importance of comma as a pause and a gap in writing. There is the all important silence in music and there is a silence even in between the endless stream of thoughts we produce. The examples are plenty. These gaps, long and short, are everywhere. By slowing down I have started to recognise these pauses and that they are a gateway for a deeper inner silence and peace.
By allowing silence into my life I have learned to realign my life with what really matters to me. I no longer have an urge to run in all direction, but to focus on the path beneath my feet. To engage in fewer but possibly richer and more meaningful encounters. Maybe some of us are made to go a little slower and perhaps to delve a little deeper. I walk this life on my own pace now, in order to become as me as I can be, in order to have a self to express, in order to have something to say.
A great silence comes over me and I wonder why I ever thought to use language.
- Rumi -