November 17, 2008

Silence Speaks

"There is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought . . . all the things that truly matter--beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace--arise from beyond the mind."
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Silence . . . Stillness . . . I've often wondered how productivity can come of being silent or being still. My mind and body regularly move at a challenging speed, leaving me exhausted yet proud at all that gets accomplished in a day. Often I get involved in an activity just so I don't have to sit still and be with myself, because I don't want to encounter the issues I need to deal with on a personal or spiritual level. Off I'll go, at lightening speed, to busy myself, when I really need to slow down my body, stop the internal chatter, and simply be. But it is hard. Silence, stillness, and "being" without "doing" are not natural to me. But it is precisely in these moments that God is able to enter in a special way, as if by invitation. Creating moments where His Spirit can enter and fill me with insight and guidance is so worth the payoff of slowing down. Here is one such memorable moment where I allowed the silence to speak and the stillness to move in my spirit . . .

If there is anything my close friends know about me, it's that I do not sleep in the daytime . . . at all. I understand that naps are beneficial to our bodies, but it's part of that not-slowing-down thing I do so well. I feel that I am being idle if I nap, even if I could use the rest. Since I trail run and walk often, I usually have my silent moments in the woods . . . but they're not still moments. And at this particular time in my life, I was in desperate need of a still moment. Then one day out of nowhere, I found myself searching for the couch . . . during the day. Much to my shame, I went for it. I just did it. I fell asleep on the couch. And from what I remember, it felt good. But the waking-up moment was even better. Here's why: When we are not yet awake, but not quite asleep, our bodies are in an alpha state, which is very relaxing. Meditation can be done in this alpha state, and it often produces some incredible healing in the body. So as I was in this alpha state, I was aware of a voice speaking directly in my ear (whispering, actually). I remember having a "thought" dialogue with this voice, so my actual voice didn't respond. I can't remember the words spoken to me, but the tone was one of peace and love. After the dialogue was complete, the word breathe kept sounding in my ear, which was an important word for me to hear (I'll explain later). I even heard the voice as I opened my eyes, thinking that someone was in the room. But the room was empty.

I wondered if I had just had a dream, but right away I knew better. It is my belief that I created a "space", an opening, for the Spirit to speak to me. By creating silence and stillness, the Spirit was able to speak with me at a soul level (not a mind level, because we are not our minds, we are our souls). And the word that was given to me as a token of that Spirit-speak was breathe. This word is important to me because I am a notoriously shallow breather (caused by anxiety). So to hear a reminder to breathe was such a help. From that moment on, I stop many times a day and really focus on my breathing. May seem silly to you, but it is a necessity to me if I don't want to get lightheaded or pass out, which has happened to me.

In order for me to hear the soul message, I had to be "out of my mind" (removing internal chatter) and still. I aim to be still and silent at least once a day now. Just a few moments of silence and stillness can open my soul's door to experience what God has to say through His Spirit. I don't have to take a nap for this connection with God to happen; that experience was just His way of saying it's OK to slow down . . . and rest. Sitting on my wonderful back porch can open the door. Meditating can open the door. Being in the woods and stopping to take in a silent moment can open the door. Sitting in my parked car can open the door. Sitting at my dining room table can open the door. The possibilities are endless. And so is His pursuit of us . . . endless.

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