The “Sound” of Silence

The sound of silence, is there such a thing? When people say that they would like silence, can we find silence? In the modern world of technology is there any silence? In the mind is there any silence?

Everyone has their own interpretation of silence. Mine is when the house is empty apart from myself and the dogs. I still have the radio on as I like the music in the background but to me this is silence. There is no noise coming from my boys or husband. There is no sound of their voices or their breath. There are no footsteps as they move around the house or bangs and crashes as they open cupboards in search of clothes or food or other stuff. There is no sound from the electronic devices that they seem to have permanently attached to them in some shape or form. There is no sound from their TVs or game consoles or phones, either ringing or even the buzz of vibration from notifications/texts/messages/alerts in some shape or form. The buzz of the vibration from these things is their way of having their gadgets silent. 

As I sit in my kitchen writing this essay there are sounds all around. The sound of my fingers as they type on the laptop keys and the sound as the letter keys are depressed. The washing machine as it spins. The fridge freezer always has that hum as the thermostat works. The drip of the kitchen tap as it hits the sink. The fly buzzing around looking for somewhere to land. The kitchen door is open so the sounds from outside creep in. The birds in the garden feeding. The rustle of the breeze in the trees. The chickens at the bottom of the garden, as they dig and scratch in the soil. The sound of passing traffic on the road in front of the house. The sound of an aeroplane as it flies overhead on its way to a holiday resort.

These are some of the sounds that I can hear in a very short space of time. The sounds will have an impact on how I am feeling and how I may feel after experiencing them. Some may make me feel happy as in the music being played on the radio but it may also make me feel sad. The sound of the birds and chickens outside connecting me with nature along with the sound of the breeze rustling through the trees. The sound of the aeroplane as it flies high in the sky taking people to far flung places to experience new sounds, makes me long to be away. The sound of the cars as they pass, some fast with an impatience of getting somewhere quickly may make me feels their impatience to get to their destination.

We are surrounded by sound in some shape or form and it will have an impact on us and how it makes us feel. Sad, happy, relieved, joy, annoyed, angry, vulnerable, restless, tired, energised and so on. This is also the effect the sounds that the gongs may have on us too. We may experience many of these emotions as the sound and vibration travels through our auric field into our physical body and releasing emotions.

So when we think we are sitting in relevant silence in a space that we have chosen as it appears to be silent, what happens to our minds? Do our minds become silent? Our minds are a very powerful thing and when we think we are silent our minds then distract us with a thought or emotion and then the chitter chatter of our minds begin! As we then allow the mind to focus on that thought or emotion it expands to become bigger and bigger, if we allow it. This thought or emotion then may expand into a physical pain as our mind expands it and we allow it to enter our physical body. So how to do we switch our minds off and stop the sound? Meditation is a great practice and one we may often find difficult to achieve but with practice we may be able to achieve it, even if only briefly.

We can try and switch off our minds and not attach to the chitter chatter as the thoughts enter it. We can view them as if projected in front of our eyes on a TV screen and observe them but not engage with them. Just allow them to pass through. Then of course as we sit in what we perceive to be silence there are the sounds around us. What happens to our minds as the sounds enter it? Our mind then tries to focus on the sound, where is it coming from? What is making this sound? How is it making us feel? So the mind is then off on its merry way again!

Something I always find very interesting is sitting with other people in silence. So many people find this very challenging and feel they have to fill the silence. It makes them feel uncomfortable to be silent and they feel they have to fill the silence with sound. We can actually communicate very well with silence and allow our subtle energies and auras to communicate for us. I enjoy sitting in companionable silence with friends and allowing that comfortable silence to form between us. A look, a hug, the touch of a hand can say much more than words.

I find that when some clients come to me for reflexology or Reiki that rather than allowing the silence to happen as I work, some people still fill the silence with the sound of chitter chatter. For me silence is better, as their bodies and energies speak volumes to me. I know the chatter is their way of releasing stress and emotions.

When teaching yoga classes, it’s always interesting to observe people during the beginning and end of the class as they lay in sivasana, (corpse posture) for relaxation. Again this is a silent time and you can see that people struggle with it. Some are fidgeting; some lie for a short period of time and then check with one eye to see what’s going on around them. You can see the eyelids moving as thoughts are entering into the mind or a sound may catch their attention. I have been taking my little symphonic gong into class and playing the gong at the end of the class as they lie in relaxation position to see the effect on them. It’s amazing the effects that it has had! The sound and vibration helps to completely relax them and switch off their minds and you can see the difference. The students have even now asked for the gong at the beginning of class too, as it helps them to settle the mind and allow the silence to come thus bringing the awareness of into their bodies for the class.

We are currently in the process of moving house. At present we are on a road with farm fields across the road from us and behind us, classing us as a “semi rural” location. There are some times that the road is busier than others and this is when we are generally at the back of the house so you don’t often notice the sound. And we are busy as a family in the days so we are surrounded by our own sound. At night when all falls quiet as everyone settles down to sleep the sounds change and silence falls but again a different silence.

The new house that we are moving to is in the forest, to get to it you travel along a forest track and we are tucked away in the woods, this is so we can achieve silence away from the road we are currently on and to find peace and quiet away from suburban life.

So the silence here will be the sound of the birds, the wind in the trees, and the dogs in the garden. There will be no road noise and the energy created of people rushing here and there in their cars. I shall look forward to finding out what silence will consist of in our new home.

If you are a deaf person, what is the sound of silence like to you? You may not be able to hear sound but will feel the vibrations from sound. I guess your silence will depend on the level of deafness that you have. Are you completely deaf? Can you hear muffled sound? Is there silence in your mind? With the chitter chatter and thoughts flowing, is this silence? Are your thoughts of the mind not disturbed or distracted by external sounds? Do you feel trapped in your mind as there is no diversion or distractions from external sounds? Or is it the vibrations from sound that distract you from your silence?

Even as we sleep do we find the sound of silence? Or are we still conscious of the sounds of the night? The sound of the bed creaking as we turn over in our sleep. The sound of a partner or pet asleep in the bed with us, snoring, grinding teeth or talking in their sleep. The mind, as it enters dream state,brings dreams and visions with it, from the past , the present and the future.

A baby in the womb hears sound from the beginning. It is floating in a sac full of amniotic fluid, so is the sound whooshing like the sea? Can it hear the sound of its mother’s heartbeat? Can it hear the rumbling of its mother’s digestive system when she’s hungry or the sound of the food being digested, once eaten? It hears the sound of its mother’s voice, as they are with her all day and night until they leave her body and enters the world outside. Does the baby have any sound of silence? Can it feel the vibrations of the sounds around before it enters the outside world? Can it recognise others people from their voices that it had heard in the womb?

So from the beginning of our lives there is always sound. So do we ever really know what silence is? How can we tell? We are surrounded by sound all the time in some shape or form.  The sound and vibrations enter our body and mind releasing thoughts and emotions, determining how we feel. In this way the sound of the gong will help quiet the mind and bring the body back into balance.

So do we ever achieve the sound of silence? If we were to sit in a sound proofed room would we have reached this goal? So there are no externals sounds and we have managed to silence the mind is this the sound of silence? But whilst we are alive, we will still have the sound of our breathe as the air travels in and out of our body through our nostrils or mouth, keeping us alive. There is the sound of our heart beating as it pumps the blood around our body, the blood coursing through our veins.

So would we only find the sound of silence in death?            

(Inspired by the title of one of my favourite songs, “The sound of silence” by Simon & Garfunkel)

“The Sound of Silence”

Hello darkness, my old friend,

I’ve come to talk with you again,

Because a vision softly creeping, Left is seeds while I was sleeping,

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walked alone

Narrow streets of cobblestone,

‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,

I turned my collar to the cold and amp

When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light

That split the night

And touched the sound of silence.

And in the naked light I saw

Ten thousand people, maybe more.

People talking without speaking,

People hearing without listening,

People writing songs that voices never share

And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence.

“Fools” said I, You do not know-

Silence like a cancer grows.

Hear my words that I might teach you.

Take my arms that I might reach you”.

But my words like silent raindrops fell

And echoed in the wells of silence.

And the people bowed and prayed

To the neon god they made.

And the sign flashed out its warning.

In the words that it was forming.

And the sign said, The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls

And the tenement halls

And whispered in the sound of silence.

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