Amy Thinks Deep

philosophy for the curious soul 

The Art of Listening in Silence

When I was younger, my mother practiced what we called "quiet time." This was a time for the noise of electronics to dissipate, for us to stay quietly in our rooms, to find our own quiet space inside. We were allowed to do whatever in our rooms as long as it didn't cause noise.

Even though I don't remember what I did during that quiet hour, I do remember hearing silence. I remember how it was a beautiful hour of peace.

Meditation is also a time of peace, quietness, stillness. Sometimes during meditation, I will sit quietly and still, just intentionally listening. It provides refreshment to the body, mind, and soul. During true silence, life feels a bit different. When we quiet down other disturbances from outward life, we start to hear what is going on internally. For example, in a man-made chamber engineered specifically to be the quietest existence on Earth, people who have experienced absolute silence start to hear their own breathing and heartbeat loud and clear.

Now listening is an art in which one must master the mind. I believe I have an extra step toward this because of practicing when I was a kid, during quiet time. Because of that practice, I easily remember how to return to a state of quietude. 

My nemesis for meditation is usually daydreaming. My daydreams usually lead me to imagine how certain events play out if X happened instead of Y. Though daydreaming and listening may look alike from the outside, they are quite opposites.

Daydreaming is keeping the mind busy - essentially, just amusing the mind so it isn't bored. In a state of silence, we may run into what we term boredom. But boredom in this case reveals the opportunity for listening. Boredom is a lack of entertainment through activity. When we get to a state of boredom, we find that our mind cannot tolerate such stillness and needs entertainment. Yet our mind is still very active, desperately in search for something for us to think about or do.

During meditation, the chatter and entertainment for the mind ceases and one begins to quiet down internally. As distractions may arise in meditation, as they usually do, the mind finds these distractions, well, distracting and wants to be entertained by anything that crosses its path. The mind, if not trained, is weak to orders of the will. In order to silence the mind, you must teach it to listen. Listening is a task that the mind can "do" and remain still and quiet.

Listening goes like this. When one releases distractions, daydreams, singing songs, etc. from the mind, the mind is left with nothing to do. Listening only occurs when one is attentive to another's mind activity. Much like within meditation, an empty space is reserved for an phenomenon to occur. With listening, the phenomenon occurring is expression through words, which originate from a different person's mind. 

In the case of quieting oneself during something like "quiet time" and listening to whatever reveals itself, one will find that the phenomenon that occurs is beautiful and valuable. Listening (not listening to something) is reserving an empty space for something magical to occur. 

Have you ever tried some quiet time? Have you ever tried listening in the silence? Next time you do reserve this special time for listening, turn off your cell phone. I mean, power the device off. We don't realize it, but it does make a difference if you quiet down without its power blaring through our minds. I can hear an audible difference. See if you can too.

Listen to the silence. It speaks. Save it an empty seat.

Go Back


Search Blog

Want to Read More?

Join the deepest newsletter ever!