Strength In Silence

“Those who are quiet value the words. When their task is completed, people will say: We did it ourselves.”

 -Lao Tzu

In our culture, we are taught the value of speaking our minds. I have never been afraid to utter what I feel. Hailing from a culture where women are denied a voice and looked down when they share an opinion, for me the most courageous act was to speak up. I did speak a lot much to the annoyance of others. I was always quick to react and respond, that was the mantra I lived by. But lately, I’ve realized that speaking your mind always doesn’t work. Sometimes maintaining silence is the best policy. Peace never comes from speaking but only from silence. But to many habitual speakers like me out there, silence doesn’t come easy. The temptation to talk, give back, respond, and react is intense. So why is silence important?

Why is Silence Important?

There is enormous strength in silence. When we maintain a pure silence, everyone around starts taking notice. Words never draw people towards you, its always the stillness. When I say silence, I don’t mean indifference or any form of passive aggressive behavior but a serene calmness. The peaceful tranquility of soul attracts the whole cosmos, try it for yourself. Take out some time from your busy day, sit under a tree or by the lake or a river, practice any meditation technique and sit silently. Once you sit still and your mind is calmer you will discover that trees, birds, river everyone is trying to say something. Nature will reveal to you its most sacred wisdom in the fluttering of leaves, the cooing of birds, in the howling of winds. When the speaker in you dies, the listener in you takes birth.

Don’t Reveal the Secrets of Your Heart

Every heart has secrets; every soul has mysteries, when we start taking pleasure in non-stop chatters we risk revealing what’s most precious to us. Of course, I don’t wish that you should become an unfathomable enigma but a little mystery is always good.

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.

-Khalil Gibran

When you become an open book for the world to read, you lose your treasured privacy. Allow others to decipher you, let them take their time. Keep some secrets and mysteries to yourself. Let them be with you in your heart and carry them like companions when you embark on a journey from this world to another.

Conflict Resolution

History has been a witness that most of the battles were fought over words. One can avoid unnecessary complexities by simply staying silent. Don’t drain your energy by getting into mindless gossips and arguments. The fact is endless talking leads to gossiping and bitching, which is simply a waste of time. Every time we talk no matter how careful we are, we unconsciously end up saying hurtful words. It’s more rewarding to be a compassionate listener than a mindless speaker. In the heat of the moment try to stay calm and collected, your cool demeanor is enough to resolve any conflict.

Keeping A Silence Fast

The million-dollar question is how to maintain silence? Talking is an addiction to many of us, I’ve had times when I’ve literally chocked with words sometimes out of indignation and others out of mere impatience. One technique that has really worked for me is keeping a silence fast. It’s a very simple and age-old practice, taking a vow to be silent. The vow can be taken in your mind or if that doesn’t work you can be more dramatic or ritualistic. I have a small temple in my room, where I take my vow of silence (often when I have an argument with my husband) The duration of the fast is completely your discretion. A twenty-four hour fast is the most effective but if it’s not for you feasible chose any time of the day and be quiet. You can let your family and friends know about your fast.

Take your fast seriously please don’t talk in sign languages or write stuff on a piece of paper. I once had a friend who would religiously keep the fast but always had a pen and paper near him to jot down stuff. It’s a sacred vow so please don’t cheat (although we all cheat, it’s tempting). As time will pass you will get better in it and the temptation to speak will wither away.  Silence will open a world of enormous joy and pleasure, you will not seek any human company.

“Silence is the language of God, all else is poor in translation.”

 – Rumi