To be true to self is sometimes one of the hardest choices a person makes in their life yet ultimately yields the best results. Often we are challenged to choose between almost and exactly what we need,want and desire and the difference can cause all kinds of feelings ranging from guilt to a need to defend one’s actions.

Defence is never the best strategy as it limits possibilities and it is important for your well being to stay connected and grounded in what is true and has meaning for you otherwise you create space for uncertainty, uncertainty creates anxiety and survival responses due to the unknown overriding the known, when this is productive and healthy it is can become a guiding force edging you closer to a desirable transition when not it’s a message to pay attention to what has caused the experience and make the necessary adjustments to reduce the unhelpful anxiety and stress and this means change, changing beliefs, behaviours, attitudes, boundaries with others and sometimes jobs and relationships.

Communication is key to understanding first of all yourself and what your “knowing” is attempting to communicate and then with others, open clear channels of both non verbal and verbal communication listening to the subtleties in the silence also.

Often people are uncomfortable with silence.

“The first layer of silence is a respite from constant mental toil. We enjoy a break from churning our complicated facts, important memories, and worrisome predictions. We open to peace of mind. This is the introductory gift of learning to quiet the mind’s chatter: a chance to rest. In a spacious moment of stillness, we begin to appreciate how struggling to solve life never leads to solutions, only to confusion and exhaustion. A boundless relief comes with abandoning, even for a moment, all our strenuous, futile striving.

The second layer of silence is the recognition that verbal reasoning is only a shadow of life, not life itself. Before we get to this stage, we believe the stories we tell ourselves. For instance if we think, “I can’t continue in the face of such pain,” we believe our mind’s dire prediction and become paralyzed. As we wait for the sorrow to lift, or the fear to abate, the stasis that results simply worsens our mental anguish. But as we learn the value of quieting inner dialogue, we begin to see that these strings of words have no solidity. They are tokens of interpretations of models of our lives. Neither the tokens, nor the interpretations, nor the models are life itself. As we begin to quiet the inner verbiage, we recognize it to be arbitrary and unhelpful. Instead of thinking about what’s going on, we experience life as it is in this moment. Nearly always, life as it is entails far less pain than life as we think it is.

The third layer of silence is beyond description. It is simple and unalloyed bliss. This essay I’m now writing was inspired by a quote my aunt sent, taken from Listening to Your Life, by Frederick Buechner. The theologian provides a good description of this final gift of inner quiet:

I have been conscious but not conscious of anything, not even of myself. I have been surrounded by the whiteness of snow. I have heard a stillness that encloses all sounds stilled the way whiteness encloses all colors stilled, the way wordlessness encloses all words stilled. I have sensed the presence of a presence. I have felt a promise promised.

Buechner’s words come as close as words can to capturing the ultimate fruit of stilling the inner dialogue.

It is important to recognize that quieting the mind’s verbal stream yields benefits at every stage. Early on, we are granted rest. A little later, we gain insight into the emptiness of words. And finally, we discover what we were hoping for all along: an unshakeable foundation for peace of mind”. Will Meecham, MD

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