Saturday, January 15, 2011

Silence is the great teacher...

"Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it.
There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability
that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence." ~ Deepak Chopra

Noise is a prime environmental cause of stress. Noise pollution triggers the body’s stress response releasing stress hormones into your autonomic nervous system. Studies on the effects of environmental noise show an association between noise exposure and cardiovascular disease.

On March 31, 2009, Anne D. LeClaire was my guest on my show, Talk To Me… Conversations With Creative, Unconventional People on Blog Talk Radio. Anne has written eight novels, including the critically acclaimed Entering Normal, The Lavender Hour, Every Mother's Son, Sideshow, and Leaving Eden. Her latest book, Listening Below The Noise -- part memoir, part philosophical reflection -- is a look at the importance of silence as a means of achieving awareness and inner peace.

Since 1992, Anne has practiced silence on the first and third Monday of each month. For twenty-four hours, she does not speak. Her commitment to silence did not come without challenges. However, she stated, the benefits derived outweigh any bumps along the road to peace and serenity.

I asked Anne what possessed her to commit to the practice of silence? Her response, in a word, ...gratitude. Gratitude called her to silence.

On that day in 1992, Anne was walking the beach near her home on Cape Cod. "It was an absolutely beautiful day… but that day I was sad because my best friend’s mother was dying and I could do nothing to prevent the pain that was coming to my friend. I think that the element of a tender and sore heart was critical in what followed. I had paused to watch two eider ducks dive in the water. As they stayed underwater for an amazing length of time, I thought, 'Isn’t that like a little miracle of nature that these creatures could stay submerged for longer than I could hold my breath.'" As Anne focused on the eiders, her sadness waned.

"When we start to feel gratitude about something, it can be like a domino line." She began to think about the many things she was grateful for. "I thought, 'I am so blessed in this moment, I don’t know what to do.' And at that instance, I heard someone behind me say, 'Sit in silence.'" Anne turned around; no one was there. Nothing like that had ever happened to her before or since, but the experience was so profound it called her to attention. "What could that mean? And I thought maybe it just means: Be quiet," Anne explained.

She went home and told her husband, "I’m not going to talk tomorrow." She spent the next day in silence. The experience, she said, was so profound in so many ways. It was life changing. She heard things in herself that normally were drowned out by too much chatter.

"I felt so restored and rested at the end of the day…. It slowed things down. We live in such a hectic, noisy world. For this one day I had stepped back from this crazed, media-driven, fear-based crazy world, and had just been in this moment of silence. It was so incredible. I knew I wanted to do it again."

Anne began to see what happens when we make space for creative thoughts to rise up. She began to read about sounds and how artists and musicians talk about the need for silence in the creative process. Silence, she said, has been "one of my greatest teachers, giving me a center from which to live, strengthening me, testing me, and facilitating deep healing."

Have a joyful day everyone. And remember to live a flourishing life.

To learn more about how you can live a flourishing life, please visit my web site,

*Excerpt from Live A Flourishing Life

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