My children often ask me “What is the point of sitting in silence meditating?”
They can’t think of anything worse. In their view it is boring and pointless.
This is what I tell them…
1. It is a way of finding out about yourself.
Most of the time you will feel a strong urge to fill any period of silence or stillness that happens in your life.
You fill it with thoughts, chatter, activities… Anything that will take you away from yourself.
That is why social media and the internet have such a strong pull. You can spend hours absorbed in the flow of information, soon becoming addicted to the never ending source of distraction.
You are always occupied. You think that if you are busy, you are being productive and that is “good”. Whereas you think that sitting in silence doing nothing is boring and “bad”.
If you do have any time to yourself, you soon become agitated and start looking for something to fill the time.
In the absence of any distractions you fidget or you daydream; following whichever train of throughts happens to appear in your head.
You might not know this, but the reason you react like this is an underlying fear of the nothingness that you encounter. You aren’t familiar with it, and your mind can’t make sense of it, so your automatic response is to run away from it.
You may mistake the source of your discomfort as not having anything to do. But, in fact, what you are actually trying to escape from are the thoughts and physical sensations that you become aware of when you take all your distractions away.
When you sit in silence, you have to listen to what is going on inside of you, and that is when you find out about yourself.
2. It makes you aware of your thought patterns.
Most of the time you live in your head, listening to and believing all the thoughts and reactions that pop up. You think that is who you are.
You identify with your likes, interests and opinions, holding onto them strongly as a way to differentiate yourself from each other and justify your actions.
What you think affects what you say and what you do so it has a huge impact on your experience. It changes your world. By becoming more conscious of your thoughts you are able to create a difference experience.
When you take the time to sit quietly on a regular basis, then you become aware of your mental chatter and start to recognise recurring patterns.
When you become aware of your thoughts you can see why you act the way you do. You can see if a thought is making you happy, if it is improvoing your life. If a thought is not making you happier, you can choose to let go of it.
3. It helps you deal with difficult feelings.
When you sit in silence you have to confront any difficult feelings you have.
You are conditioned to run away from pain and discomfort; to resist unpleasant experiences while attaching to pleasant experiences.
But, there is no way around difficult feelings. If you choose to ignore them they will continue to affect you.
The only way to move beyond your pain is by detaching from the thoughts that cause them, accepting them and eventually letting them go.
If you are brave enough to explore your upsetting thoughts and feelings, you will find that they change and eventually disappear over time.
Although your fears and pain will not usually go upon the first examination, by repeatedly shining the light of awareness on them then you face the discomfort, experience it fully and learn there is nothing to fear. The only thing you are afraid of is fear itself.
There is no need to run from pain, stress and discomfort. In fact, it is these areas of discomfort that provide you with the greatest opportunity to grow.
You don’t need to solve uncomfortable situations, just find some space to let them be.
4. It helps you solve your problems.
By taking the time to sit in silence, you are allowing yourself to be and giving yourself the chance to tap into an inner wisdom that is always there for you when you make space for it.
In those moments when your mind is quiet, that is when you find inspiration to solve your problems.
It is also a time when you can process things, allowing feelings to bubble to the surface and disappear. You learn to recognise and let go of those thoughts that are causing you problems.
5. It enables you to appreciate the beauty in the details of the world around you.
If there is no silence in your life, then the voice in your head takes over. It becomes so loud that you think you are that voice, those thoughts.
Most of the time you are so busy thinking about yourself that you forget that you are but a tiny part of the universe intricately connected to everything and everyone else.
When you pause for a minute, you become aware of your breathing, your body, your thoughts and the world around you.
There is beauty in the details everywhere you look, but the majority of the time you forget to wonder at it because you are so caught up in your mental chatter.
Life is in the little things.
Try sitting in silence for yourself.
Stop and listen for a moment. Be quiet. What do you notice?
The silence is always there, waiting.
There is a stillness which exists, and it is present behind and within everything.
In the end it is your choice, but I encourage you to make some space for silence today.
What are your thoughts and experiences of sitting in silence?