As we prepare for tomorrow’s solar eclipse, spending some time in silence today may offer a guide from within. Under the pandemic there is more space in our lives, and more opportunities to fill that space with silence if we choose to do so. All too often I fill that space with social media or other types of noise, and I loved this passage to inspire greater stillness. I hope you will too.
We spend a lot of time looking for happiness when the world right around us is full of wonder. To be alive and walk on the Earth is a miracle, and yet most of us are running as if there were some better place to get to. There is beauty calling to us every day, every hour, but we are rarely in a position to listen.
The basic condition for us to be able to hear the call of beauty and respond to it is silence. If we don’t have silence in ourselves – if our mind, our body, are full of noise – then we can’t hear beauty’s call.
Mindfulness is the practice that quiets the noise inside us. Without mindfulness, we can be pulled away by many things. Sometimes we are pulled away by regret and sorrow concerning the past. We revisit old memories and experiences, only to suffer again and again the pain we’ve already experienced. It’s easy to get caught in the prison of the past.
We may also get pulled away by the future. Anxiety, fear and uncertainty about future events prevent us from hearing the call of happiness. So the future becomes a kind of present too.
Mindfulness is often described as a bell that reminds us to stop and silently listen. We follow our breath, making space for silence.
Thich Nhat Hanh, from Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise