one of my mentors, Danielle LaPorte, posed this question on her blog: “What’s your relationship to silence?”
it’s been pretty quiet around here (in my office, on social media and on the blog) recently, so this question seemed particularly apt to answer publicly. I’ve taken a break from blogging and the Heart to Heart interviews in order to focus on finishing my dissertation and creating a couple of new programs—all of which should be complete in the next month or so.
as a card-carrying introvert, I revel in silence. it always interests me when I walk into someone’s home and they keep the TV on for “background noise” even when they’re not watching it. or when people enjoy meeting at a noisy club or restaurant—I can hardly hear my own thoughts, let alone what someone is saying to me from across the table. I find that annoying because I actually like to listen to what people have to say. (believe it or not, I know some coaches and therapists who don’t… I’m pretty sure they just like to hear themselves talk.)
my way of listening goes beyond just hearing what someone is saying. one of the reasons I’m good at what I do is that I can sense what you are saying on a deeper level, underneath the words coming out of your mouth, somewhere in the realm of your authentic truth. sometimes it’s what you’re actually saying, and sometimes it’s what you want to be saying. silence is the atmosphere that best allows me to hear, in the literal sense as well as the metaphorical.
this comes up a lot when talking about relationships–the relationship to your significant other, your relationship to your career, the relationship you wish you had with health and vitality…
in the quiet of my office, clients have admitted (to me and often to themselves for the first time) that they would rather have a different job, even if the one they have is profitable and perfectly “OK.” that maybe they would like to leave their long-time partner. that in truth, they’ve always wanted to live somewhere else, but haven’t had the guts to move away from their families, friends, communities. if often starts with, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but…” giving voice to truths like these is the first step in actually doing something about it.
there is so much communicated in between words… in the pause for breath, the energy behind the eyes… even where you speak from (i.e. if your voice is coming from high up in the throat or rooted in the gut). over the years, I have trained myself to pay attention to the source of your voice, not just the words you choose.
to answer Danielle’s question, my relationship to silence is like that of a very good friend. someone with whom I can pick up where I left off. I can part ways with it for a while, but if it gets to be too long in between visits, I notice the absence and begin to miss its presence.
as she says, “In silence, a broken heart is reminded it is alone — and held. An over-busy mind is challenged by peace — and given space to unfurl. Silence is the gap we must fall into everyday in order to rest into our humanity. Silence is where we can go to know what wants to be known.”
I love that last line… “to know what wants to be known.” that’s how I’d describe my interaction with clients. questions—and silence—allow truth to bubble up from the place it’s been protected, unwilling to risk exposing itself to the light.
so, as I’m wrapping up all of these recent projects, so you’ll begin to see more activity in June. here’s a sneak peek into what’s coming up: a new Heart to Heart with relationship gurus Katie and Gay Hendricks, a powerful at-home coaching course and a new album of meditations. until then, consider what YOUR relationship is to silence and see if you can sink even deeper into the peace that it offers.