Updated: Feb 3
Out walking in the woods with my dog, the topic of silence came to my mind. The crunching of leaves underfoot, the snapping of dead wood, the ever-present birdsong, it is rare that you ever really experience silence. I have experienced true darkness, deep inside the caves behind my home where it was so dark I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my nose. Yet, when do you ever hear complete silence? There is always a background white noise hum, a train rumbling by in the distance or even your stomach making gurgling sounds. Your different senses tend to fill any type of silence you experience. Thinking about silence now as I write, I recognise some irony as my inner voice is busy chatting away suggesting different ideas. Now the Simon and Garfunkel song, Sound of Silence, has started to rattle around in my head and the meaning behind some of the lyrics hit home hard. “Hello darkness, my old friend… And in the naked light I saw Ten thousand people, maybe more People talking without speaking People hearing without listening People writing songs that voices never share No one dared Disturb the sound of silence” According to Art Garfunkel, he said that the song is about “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly intentionally but especially emotionally, so what you see around you are people unable to love each other.” Hearing without listening and talking without speaking are both concepts that can make a huge impact. Do you recognise situations in your life when the differences between each of these pairs of words have occurred? What happened? As a coach and podcaster, effective communication is at the heart of what I do and I use a lot of silence in my work. In fact, silence is probably one of the most powerful tools in both coaching and podcasting. Listening actively, the moments of silence enable people to increase their self-awareness and self-compassion, to communicate emotionally. Therefore silence often leads to living more purposefully. There is a good reason why there is a saying 'silence is golden' because it really is. Time when there is no speaking, talking or making of any noise to distract from the moment as it can be the perfect opportunity where my coaching clients and podcast guests go deeper into their thoughts, to reflect on what has just been said and for them to share what is really on their mind. I always make space for silence. I listen attentively in silence without interrupting, totally focused on what the person in front of me is saying. I pause before responding to ensure that the speaker is finished, as those extra two or three seconds of silence make all the difference. This is when the speaker takes the conversation to another level, because they've been given the space to explore further. Often, they haven't finished speaking. They're either pausing for effect to show me that what they’ve just said was important, they're collecting their thoughts of what to continue with, or they just needed a moment or two longer to regather their thoughts before continuing. Not making any assumptions, I always wait to check. This week one of my clients as a reflective thinker thanked me for holding this golden safe space to allow her to investigate areas further and feel into the spaciousness that was created in the silence. The art of listening is the key to communication, not just with others, but with yourself. As part of my daily routine, I start with Silence. It was after reading Hal Elrod’s Life S.A.V.E.R.S. Miracle Morning routine designed to create balance across six areas of personal development each day that I instigated this practice. For Elrod, the first S is for silence and it is about starting the day with at least five minutes of meditation, prayer, reflection, deep breathing or gratitude. It is about setting the expectations for the day and preparing your mindset with intentional silence. Even if your inner voice is likely saying a lot it is still a great practice to try to master! Take a moment to Focus on Silence today and see what happens for you.
ACTION POINT How could you benefit from silence? Take a moment or two to focus on silence.
Amy BOOK RECOMMENDATION* The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod - https://amzn.to/3FYQ0yR *As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.