“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” This is a line from the famous poem, Desiderata, by Max Erhmann, written in the early 1900s. To go placidly means to go calmly, gently, serenely, which is a challenging concept for many of us in the 21st Century. But it is not impossible. Calm and serenity can be cultivated and silence discovered.
When we can find and commune with the silence within ourselves, a sense of calm pervades everything we do. Jill Jepson, in Writing as a Sacred Path, offers wonderful instruction on how to cultivate the ability to find that silence. I offer here several of her key points to help you develop your own practice:
Find a setting: Look for a comfortable place in your home, yard or wherever you can be assured you will not be bothered.
Set an interval: Designate a block of time, whether it be 5, 10 or 20 minutes each day, every second day or even once a week, if that’s all you can spare to begin with. Use a timer so you can be released of the need to look at the clock.
Be comfortable: Sit, feet flat on the floor with comfortable posture, assume a meditation poster, or lie down, face up, legs and arms relaxed, eyes closed.
Simply “be”: Don’t focus on your breath, don’t fidget, do nothing special. Just be there.
Accept intrusive noises: Jepson says that when you intend on being silent, “You will immediately discover that your silence isn’t truly silent. You will probably hear something.” Just as you are letting your body “be” also let the noises “be” and “consider them part of the silence rather than interference.”
When the timer goes off, open your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and close your eyes again. Listen to the silence within you, feel the calm in your body.
If you don’t feel much different than when you started, be patient and continue your silent practice as regularly as you can. You will begin to feel the benefits within and also reap the benefits of holding a serene demeanor in the outer world.
Once you have found your silence, try using this practice with activities such as walking, running, swimming, being in nature, writing, or art of any form. These, done in this attitude of silence, become forms of meditation.
Setting your intention for silence and serenity is a way of bringing your awareness back to your center and away from the noise and haste.