A moment of silence is not inherently religious.
Sandra Day O’Connor
Today I want to talk about quiet which in itself sounds a bit contradictory. The other night I was at a meeting and the facilitator decided to start the meeting with a couple of minutes of silence. At first it was very strange, sitting in this room, most of the people unknown to me and just sitting there my mind wandering. Then I turned inward, took a deep breath and relaxed and just sat for a minute letting things from the day go. In thinking back about this today I was reminded of a fabulous hike I took once in Tennessee. My friend Andrew and I were working together at Oak Ridge National Lab on a project that was focusing on environmental values. Andrew and I often hiked together and usually took very interesting hikes, one particular hike we took had a single purpose, to hike far enough out to actually find some natural quiet. This is not as easy as you might imagine, natural quiet means that the only sounds you can hear are the sounds of nature. No dogs, no cars, no planes, trains or automobiles. Our hike was a bit arduous but finally we had gotten into a valley where we thought we had found our quarry. We settled down and laid back against our packs and for a half an hour enjoyed just the sounds of nature. It was incredibly calming and wonderful at least right up until the 747 came screaming overhead, at which point we both burst out in laughter.
The link below can provide you some more information on the idea of natural quiet and our national parks:
Since that hike in Tennessee I have been fortunate to find other places of natural quiet during my travels in Utah, Alaska, Nepal and Scotland and each instance is etched in my mind like a precious jewel. But we don’t need to travel the globe to gather the benefits of silence. It’s important each day, (preferably at the beginning or end of each day, best at both), to take five minutes and just sit quietly and let the world melt, just another little tool on your quest for happiness.
But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything.