The Intimacy of Silence

By Dorothy Hunt

photo by Ray Collins

Silence—may it not be a concept.  Make it palpable; feel its substance; experience its current and flow, its aliveness and living presence.  Notice how it permeates nature, how everything has its own quality of Silence.  The immense and immovable silence of high mountains, the utterly surrendered and peaceful silence of a sleeping infant, the dark silence of a forest, the silent depths of the ocean, the playful silence of a meandering brook, the towering silence of a gothic cathedral, the naked silence of a bare branch in winter, the vast, spreading silence of the sky.  In the body, feel the vertical depth of silence, and the way it bathes the body inside and out, connecting us to the silence of all things.  Pay attention to the felt-sense of silence, how it dissolves barriers, soothes, nurtures, simultaneously both relaxes and enlivens the body.

To experience Silence is to experience intimacy—with the world, and with whatever or whomever we are seeing or meeting experientially.  Such an intimate silence is very present to what is at hand.  Perceiving, thinking, and feeling are available but we feel more alert, more intimate, more present than our ordinary mode of experiencing.  This silence is not a spaced-out, trance-like, dimmed or static state of consciousness, but our natural state, totally open to and intimate with the moment as it is.

In our daily lives, we may realize how incessantly we use noise to distract us from silence—the noise of our inner talking, the stories we tell ourselves that keep emotions churning, the lies we live with that perpetuate fear, the ways we continually trade the alive silence of our unborn nature for conditioned thoughts and judgments.  Anxiety and fear may seem to guard the gate to Silence, but eventually these will give way when we are ready to enter the Unknown, when we are more interested in being than improving, when we prefer listening to knowing, when we are more intrigued by “now” than by “then” or “when.”

Soaking in silence is like being bathed from the inside out. Whatever needs attention, warmth, love, purification, liberation, is invited forth from the shadows to be seen, felt, drawn back into the wholeness that belongs to our Being.

As Silence drenches us inside and out, we experience its intimacy, freshness, and responsiveness.  We can sense the difference between words and actions that come directly from Silence and those that feel stale, packaged, conditioned. We feel the subtle currents of Silence more readily; and we begin to feel a tender love for life in all its distinct expressions—not because we should, or because we have become saints, but because we have been transformed by Silence.

a series excerpted from The Altar of This Moment

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