The Sounds of Silence

It is a rare moment that I find myself surrounded by the sounds of silence. As I write this blog, I have challenged myself to do so with no other sound than those that exist without my control over them. I can hear the hum of the refrigerator and water running in the condominium below. Occasionally, a gust of wind outside draws my attention away from my own revelry. Or a train flying over the tracks pulls my attention away from these words.

Music plays a prominent roles in my life. When I prepare for the day ahead, I turn on the radio and laugh at Eric in the Morning with Melissa and Whip or hit play on a Spotify playlist filled with some of my favorite alternative tunes from the late ninetys. I regularly rock out to some old school Blink 182 and Nirvana to motivate me as I shower and get ready to leave the house. My radio is nearly always on in the car as I discover new songs to add to my yoga playlists. For me, music plays an important role in both the adult and children’s yoga classes I teach.

Music has the power to influence my mood and shape my day. When I clean the house, I find that it is much more enjoyable when I can bounce around to Walk the Moon and Imagine Dragons. When I am grouchy, I feed my mood with Paramoure and Linkin Park. And when I am feeling sleepy and undermotivated, a good show tune will almost always lift my spirits. And, in my free time, I fill the house with sounds from my own guitar as I experiment with recreating the sounds and mood evoked by my favorite artists.

However, as I sit here surrounded by silence, my ideas become clearer. My mind feels more focused. There is a sense of overwhelming peace coursing through me.

Reflecting back on my time as an elementary school instructional coach, I am struck by several clear memories I have of observing my talented colleagues as they taught and I collected data about teaching and learning. Each teacher had strengths and a gift for reaching his or her students. Classrooms were filled with rich instruction and plenty of opportunities for students to practice listening and collaborating. Yet, no matter who I observed, one thing was always the same. In each instance, there was a lack of quiet time for children to simply sit back, think and reflect.

Sure, there was plenty of time provided for children to work quietly, but very little time provided for students to just be still, quiet and think. And, of course, this makes a lot of sense. As an adult, how often do we give ourselves permission to do just this? With the busyness of life and the ready availability of technology and media, we leave ourselves very little time to simply be. To loosely quote an influential yoga teacher of mine, we spend very little time as “human beings” and far too much time as “human doings.” We become so involved with moving from task to task on our to-do lists that we forget the peace that quiet can reveal.

As we move into the new year, my goal is to seek space and time to simply be quiet and still. To observe what is happening, sit with my thoughts and simply be instead of constantly searching out something to do. To listen to and observe the sounds of silence.

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