The Spirituality of Silence
In Today’s Noisy World We Need to Reclaim the Ability to Deeply Listen
We live in a noisy world, with too many things vying for our attention. Though we can’t help some of it, much of the noise that permeates our existence is the distractions we create. We can’t stand silence, not even for a couple seconds, so we fill that void with the clutter of sounds and activity: television, music, social media, and more. It’s time we embrace the spiritual discipline of silence—the spirituality of silence.
Consider the Noisy World That Surrounds Us
Look around at social gatherings and public places to see how many people pull out their smart phones at an instant to occupy even the smallest of lulls in conversation or spaces in activity. There’s a constant assortment of inputs that attack our ears and assault our minds. And increasingly, one input is not enough. It’s checking email or social media, while having a conversation with someone else. Or it’s talking on our phone as we talk to the person sitting next to us. There are even people who go down a rabbit trail on their smartphone as they listen to a sermon. There’s also a two-device mentality, such as watching TV and surfing the web.
With this constant deluge of sounds and attempt at multitasking, we’ve lost the ability to truly hear. We need to learn how to deeply listen and to recapture the gift of silence. This is not only practical, it’s also spiritual. It’s the spirituality of silence.
When we can embrace a gap in sounds, we’ll regain the ability to listen to what happens around us. This readies us to hear anew.
Silence Prepares Us to Hear Others
How many times have you been talking to someone and sensed they weren’t really hearing you, that they had ceased listening? It’s like we’re having a one-way conversation in the presence of another person. They stop responding and cease giving visual and verbal cues that they’re listening to.
When in the presence of others, turn off all devices and stifle distractions. Allow a moment of silence to be part of our interaction. This provides time to think about what we’re saying before we open our mouth. It gives the space to hear, truly hears, what other people want to tell us. And then it prepares us to properly react with thoughtful responses and insightful thoughts.
Silence Prepares Us to Hear Ourselves
Not only does our noisy world prevent us from truly listening to others, it also interferes with our ability to listen to ourselves. How often have we heard or thought, “There’s so much noise that I can’t hear myself think?”
For most of us, we surround ourselves so much with sights and sounds that we’ve overwhelmed our ability to think deeply. And most of the time, we don’t even realize we’ve done it.
While in a recent moment of downtime, an action plan to a longstanding dilemma formed in my mind, well clarity for several book concepts came into focus. This occurred in a minute or two. It only happened because I had removed all other stimulus and opened myself to the possibility of truly hearing what I was thinking.
Silence Prepares Us to Hear God
Even more important than us hearing others and hearing ourselves is hearing God. God is always with us, and I suspect he’s always trying to tell us something. He’s always speaking, but how often are we listening? Though he could shout at us over the noise that we surround ourselves with, he seldom does. It’s not his way to force himself on us.
To give God our full attention and open ourselves to listen to his still, small voice, we need to remove our world of distractions and immerse ourselves in silence. When we have settled our mind and focused our attention, we can listen to our Creator and Savior. To give God our full attention and open ourselves to listen to his still, small voice, we need to remove our world of distractions and immerse ourselves in silence. Click To Tweet
This is the spirituality of silence, as it opens us to hear what matters most. When we shut out our noisy world and embrace the spirituality of silence, we prepare ourselves to truly listen to others, ourselves, and to God.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.