When my soul speaks, I listen. There's a distinct difference between deep-down-soul-level communication and the voice of ego drives. And when the soul speaks, it matters. It matters a lot. It's not a message that comes through as words in the head, it’s a feeling in the body, like a rumbling earth about to quake. So I respond. I believe the fulfillment of my life purpose depends on it.
Recently my soul’s call was for silence. It was asking me to be alone and away from the noise of the city. Away from “my life”. For an entire month this call gained strength, growing more and more palpable at the core of my being. After trying to escape and failing against a winter storm one weekend and a packed social schedule the next, I finally succeeded, if only for 36 hours, to find solitude, nestled in the care of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. What happened?
I found silence.
I found stillness.
I connected to myself.
Let’s be honest, social media is awesome. Email and text messaging is awesome. Having a busy, creative and productive life is awesome. Yet, somehow, somewhere along the way, we tend to lose ourselves in the distraction of it all. The realm in which all of this activity is happening is not in the body and heart, it’s in the mind. I was once told that the Sufi's refer to the mind as "the great misleader", which seems about right. The mind should be the servant to the heart, never the master. There's nothing wrong with being productive and getting lost in our mental creations, but there’s something utterly fulfilling about connecting to ourselves, in presence, that we miss out on if we forget to attend to the magic of silence and solitude.
So I've compiled a list for you of 5 reasons why taking time for silence and solitude, for an hour or a week or a month, preferably in nature, should be moved up on your priority list.
1. You have an opportunity to break habits. The ancient Chinese character for healing was spontaneity. The ancient Chinese character for disease was habit. If you don’t ever take time to be alone and silent, you're likely to get caught up in a slew of habits that end up being dis-ease patterns. These could be habits like checking your phone too often and too late at night, negative thinking, eating poorly or zoning out on the television every night before bed. Whatever these habits may be, we need to step away from them from time to time and act spontaneously in order to allow the energy of our life to flow smoothly.
2. You can check in on your emotional state. As I mentioned earlier, the busy-ness of life is typically on the mental realm, and so most people are actually not in touch with their emotional realm. This is a major cause of not only illness, but also an overall discontent with life. When you take time to be alone in silence you might find sadness, anger or frustration, and that’s a good thing. Emotion is a normal part of the human experience. It’s important, however, to give yourself an opportunity to feel these feelings and let them flow through you instead of getting stuck and later showing up on the more dense material plane of your body in the form of disease.
3. You gain perspective. By taking time out in silence and solitude we get away from the constant activity that ends up being a bit like a snowball down the hill. Once it’s going, it’s hard to stop. When you intentionally take time to step away from it all, by yourself, you’re better able to see the big picture of your life, your desires, your needs, and also what’s not working about your current direction. You can then take this perspective back to your busy life and reroute if necessary.
4. You regenerate lung energy. In Chinese medicine, the act of speaking requires energy, or Qi. Lung Qi to be specific. Obviously we all seem to have enough of it to continue talking, but when we take a time out from using this energy, it gives our lungs space to relax and time to regenerate. Just as we give our muscles time to rest after a heavy work out, periodically resting our lungs from speaking can be helpful. Theoretically, taking time in silence could help improve conditions like allergies and asthma, and prevent the common cold.
5. You gain confidence and people like being around you more. If you never take time to be alone in silence, you might find it an uncomfortable experience. If you’re uncomfortable with yourself in silence, than it’s likely you will rely on others to make you feel good. This can be a drain on those people in your life, and it actually results in the opposite of what you’re seeking. Instead of gaining closeness to people, you push them away. The reality is that no one can provide you with fulfillment and happiness but yourself. Find confidence in yourself and time with others becomes more mutually enjoyable and enriching.
My wish is that even in the busiest of schedules you may hear the messages of your soul and find time to retreat in solitude and connect with the essence of your being.