it’s 10:30 pm and i am barely gonna squeeze in this second sunday in advent’s post before the day is over. and even though i’m exhausted, i just couldn’t let this day end without doing this post. and the night, the atmosphere, the mood seems just perfect for what i have to say. so, i listened to my inner self, went to turn off the christmas tree lights, and lo and behold, as i stood at the window for just a moment, just breathing in the silence of the night, a shooting star blazed through the sky right where i was gazing. it took my breath away. and i just knew that ending this weekend by writing this post was the perfect bookend for me.
so, i turned around, filled with awe and inspiration, crawled into bed, and opened my computer. and here i am. all is completely quiet and dark. the only lights are tiny little twinkle lights above my head and the glow from my computer’s keyboard. the only noises are the clicking of those keyboard keys as i type and my love’s off and on deep breathing beside me.
other than that i hear nothing. if i stop typing for a moment… pure, magical silence (i just stopped for a minute or two).
as of today, we may find ourselves starting to get used to the dark, if we are taking some time to just be in it. last sunday, i explained a little about my plan to use the season of advent as an opportunity for me to reclaim december. to slow down. to allow the darkness and waiting that is associated with this time of the year to inspire and transform me. in other words, i hope to not just go through the motions this advent/christmas/holiday season, but to really, intentionally let it sink into me. to look at how the natural world reminds me of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. to find the magic and mystery in the every day moments that make up my life.
and i invited you all to journey along with me.
so far, during this past/first week, during my morning meditation time, i have really embraced the dark. usually i light a candle or two and then let that soft glow warm + comfort me as i sit in stillness. but, this past week, i decided to go with the flow. to really dwell in my cave. even though i totally wanted to light a candle. but, instead, i kept all lights off. no candles lit. nothing. complete darkness.
the first day it was really, really weird and unsettling. even with my eyes closed, i still knew that there were no lights on. no candles. that i was alone in the dark. but now… now, i crave it. now i yearn for my morning meditation in the dark. now, i love it. the darkness settles me. and it only took me one day of insecurity before i felt comfortable. wonder if i’ll ever be able to meditate in the light again?! hehe.
this coming week, instead of just observing and being aware of the darkness, though, i want to focus on the silence that is found in the dark. the silence that comes with the hibernation of winter. the beautiful stillness and quiet that is pervasive during the night and early in the morning.
but like the dark, i believe that silence also takes some getting used to. that’s right. i want us to deal with that uncomfortable feeling again, just after we settled into being ok in our caves.
i think that one of the reasons that silence is so unnerving is because things are not really silent. life is not silent. when i quiet my mind and sit in the darkness (literal or the good darkness that i feel when i turn within), then i immediately pick up on other noises. most notably, the voices in my head. my thoughts. my wonderings. my worries. the chit chat that exists within me. and then, i even move past all of that annoying inside chatter, and i notice a leaf blower outside, or a dog barking, or the water running in my neighbor’s apartment, or the cozy purr of my cat.
the point is, when i slow down just enough to dwell in the silence, i realize that it ain’t that silent. and i am thinking that this is exactly why people don’t like meditation. because they think that we are all suppose to be gurus who can shut off everything, ignore everything, and bask in the glow of our amazing ability to just make it silent.
well, my friends, that totally isn’t how i function. and it is not at all what i believe that meditation is (but that’s a whole other blog post). but, you can get a little idea of what i think meditation is by reading on…
you see, i notice the sounds, but i am not distracted by them. i’m like a tree.
this weekend i attended my third life coaching training weekend. one of the perks of this trainingg is that we meet out in the countryside at a camp. in the middle of nowhere. with nothing but beds, a couple of bathrooms, and a meeting room/kitchen. other than that, we are surrounded by some amazing nature.
since it’s almost winter here in sweden, it’s dark most of the time. both mornings and nights, on my way to and from the meeting house to my bed, i had to walk outside. each time i did, i wandered out into the field a little bit and just stood there. in the dark. in the silence.
only it was not silent at all. the wind howled. the reeds and grass hummed in the background as they swayed in the december wind. i heard others passing between the buildings back behind me, the doors slamming shut from the force of the wind, every time someone went in or out. so the silence was not silent at all. but it didn’t matter.
i slowed down enough to get quiet so i could observe and feel and be present. and, in that moment as i silenced my soul, i stood just as tall and strong and grounded as those trees bending and blowing in the harsh wind.
this is what the silence teaches me: it is never really silent. but, it’s not about all of the sounds and things happening outside of me and around me. it’s about what’s happening within me.
the mystery and solitude of darkness sets an atmosphere that encourages silence. the kind of silence that draws us within. that calms our soul. that slows down our hurried lives. that helps us to live in the moment. and, it is in that silence, if we practice it and cultivate it and create more space for it, that we become study, strong, grounded trees. able to withstand any storm and all of the seasons of the year.
in the silence we learn to just be. and to just breathe. and to allow and accept all the things swirling around us and in us. and when we thrive in the silence of the dark, then we will be able to carry that silence with us to the crazy, loud grocery store line or the busy train station or in the midst of insane christmas shoppers.
this week, not only will i continue to meditate in the dark. but i will do it in silence. no music. no guided meditation. no noises, except for my love bumping an moving around as she gets ready or a car horn down the street or the garbage man outside or the birds chirping. i will sit still. in silence. and breathe. and i will let whatever noise or sound come and go. i will remain in silence.
and, hopefully, the silence that i find in the dark of these december mornings, in my little cave on my living room floor, will inspire me and change me even more, helping me to become even more aware, more aligned, more patient, and filled with more love and peace.
so, with that said, i now bid you all goodnight. and i leave you here now, ready to soak up the silence and darkness of the night, sending you lots of love and wishing for you to find just a few moments every day to embrace a moment of silence. to recenter. refocus. renew.
advent blessings to you all. xoxo
This is such an interesting perspective to me. I live in the tropics, so darkness is about the same between “winter” and “summer” here. And I sing and conduct choirs, so this time of the year is my busiest, and most full of sound, of all the seasons of the year. I realize that I would LOVE to have more time to be silent and embrace the darkness!! Maybe after the last choir concert. Something to aspire to, for sure. Thanks for the inspiration.
Yes, I am sure that it is so weird to read about all of my darkness talk, especially how i rely on nature to show me the darkness and the light of life. Nature truly reflects and teaches to me. I have often wondered how it would be for me to live somewhere where the four seasons were not so distinct. And, even though I grew up in North Carolina, we had four very clear seasons there too. So it’s always been a part of me. I’d love to spend a year living in a tropical place (not a year long cold place!) to see how I adjusted, spiritually. I am certain that my spirit would deepen in ways that I cannot possible begin to imagine!
It was pretty quiet on the trail this morning before sunrise (or when it got lighter in the overcast sky). Besides my squeaky shoe, I heard about 2 squirrel squeaks and it wasn’t ill about 1/2 hr after sunrise that I heard a flock of crows and some other bird chirping. Rare and enjoyable.
How wonderful your morning walks are!
I always feel so soothed after reading your blogs. <3 I love to turn the lights off and have twinkle lights or candles glow. 🙂 There is something about taking moments for solitude that bring forth these inner communications that I would have neglected otherwise. Best wishes!
That is just one of the nicest comments I have received. Wow. I couldn’t ask for anything more than to soothe someone with my words. xoxo
Truth. 🙂 <3
So well put, Liz. I have always found everyday silence rejuvenating since I’ve always been used to it, but that true silence that comes when you stop and become aware of it is a whole other thing. It’s a lesson in acceptance and a valuable tool to remaining grounded, just as you said in your metaphor regarding the tree. We all fight/resist silence precisely because it IS hard- we have to deal with our doubts rising from our subconscious, fight against the distractions such as the water turning on or the garbage man that remind us that we’re “not doing anything,” we have to face our dissatisfactions in our life, etc. Silence shows us who we are, what we really want, and that in order to achieve it we have to take responsibility and take action to go claim it. And we know that part sucks and is a struggle. So much easier to ignore and keep moving. So yes, just like sitting in darkness, sitting in silence is absolutely a tool in learning to just Be.
On a personal note, I have used silence numerous times in my life to heal myself (emotionally and physically) and yeah, it sucked every time because I had to face some shit I didn’t want to face, make compromises I didn’t want to make (even though it would make me happier or heal me) and take responsibility for stuff that seemed hard, but I truly believe the the absence of sound directed my mind and allowed me to extend my roots down into that well of strength (to mix some metaphors). I have never really found anyone who could quite understand this – minus my old yoga teacher though we didn’t really talk about this too much – and it’s SO affirming to read this after having other people not understand what the hell I was talking about. Thank you again, Liz. Love and strength to you in the darkness and silence. xoxo
p.s. In the tradition of me having incomplete thoughts, clarifying was the word I was looking for — silence (to me) clarifies and distills who we are, what we want, and how we can achieve it. It also clarifies what we’re doing that isn’t right, what isn’t serving us, and how we’re using things to delude ourselves. Sorry for the postscript but I just hate when I say something that’s not quite right/incomplete.
Clarifying was the perfect word to come to, I think. And it immediately took me back to the year that I spent in the process of coming to terms with divorcing my ex-husband so I could move on to the life that I knew was waiting for me. TO the possibilities out there. But, oh how it sucked in the present moment of being in the silence and faced with the situation of how bad my marriage really was, and that I was going to have to make a change. But, in that insane fear and unsettledness that came in the silence, came also the strength and roots that gave me exactly what I needed to do what had to be done to heal myself.
I am amazed, and grateful, that you understand me so fully as well. Sooooo wonderful. xx
No pressure, but I think I really need to read your book. It’s amazing how you’ve found such courage within you to make such huge changes in your life.
[…] i don’t believe in silence. i do believe in trees. […]