Does silence make you uncomfortable?

Does silence make you uncomfortable? Sally shares her journey.I’ve been thinking about silence. Why there’s so little of it, and why so many choose to avoid what little there is. And most importantly, my own evolving relationship with it.

There are lots of studies about the harmful effects of noise. It raises our blood pressure, weakens our immune system, makes it hard for us to learn, undermines our emotional stability, and so on.

You’d think we would seek out silence. You’d think we’d crave it. Value it above gold. And while it’s generally true that wealthy people can choose to avoid living near noisy roads or train lines, few truly embrace quiet.

What are we afraid of?

Last year, when I told friends I’d registered for a 10-day silent meditation retreat, some flat out said, “I could never do that!” Others were okay with the idea of not speaking, then became sweaty and uncomfortable when they learned “silence” also meant abstaining from reading, writing, or going online.

This near-panic at the prospect of stillness raises the question, what are we afraid of?

Before the end of the third day of last year’s retreat, more than 10% of the attendees had quit and left. The day before the rest of us would leave, silence was lifted and conversations began. Some attendees related extreme experiences. One woman had cried herself to sleep every night. Another had had spontaneous past life regressions. But the most common experiences seemed to be anxiety and difficulty in quieting the mind.

Aside from some super-realistic, otherwise un-extraordinary dreams, my experience had no such drama. My body hurt like hell a couple of days from sitting in meditation. A couple of days I felt so bored I thought I’d shout “Are we done yet?” in the middle of a group sit.

Silence makes us confront our fear that we're unlikeable.Weirdly, the thing I found most difficult was avoiding eye contact with those sharing the retreat experience. Of course, that was part of the point of silence. In silence, we cannot compare our experience with anyone else’s. And in silence, we can’t drown our thoughts with words or music. We can’t escape ourselves.

Are you scary company?

Perhaps the prospect of being left to face our true self is what makes so many of us avoid silence. What if we don’t like what we find? What if, without the validation of other people, we discover we’re completely unlikeable? What then? How would we go on?

It can take awhile to learn to defuse our self-judgement, relax in our own company and release any tendency to measure our worth against the actions (and reactions) of others. I call this process “shoveling sh*t out of the engine room,” and I’ve been digging it for years.

Happily, there are lots of tools available today to help speed the process. An online search for “How to live in the present moment” turns up thousands of suggestions, resources and videos.

My summer of silent basking

This summer offered me a different kind of retreat. For two months, I lived outside a small town, house-sitting amidst five lushly wooded acres. My daily soundtrack: the fountain by the front door, the wind chimes in the backyard, my cat’s purr, the distant lowing of cattle that freely roamed the area. Visual noise is just as disruptive as sound.

No traffic sounds to speak of. No car alarms. No neighbors’ barking dogs, loud conversations or music. Most of the time, I was alone in a huge 6-bedroom house without so much as a single ticking clock or dripping faucet.

Heaven.

I slipped so easily into the bliss of my quiet surroundings, a trip to a nearby mega store nearly crushed me. The giant product displays, oversized banners shouting “Great Price!” in letters as tall as the length of my arm. The 50” TV screens showing the latest children’s film releases, while classic rock music hummed over the store’s sound system.

Make it stop!

I felt sick to my stomach. I urgently wanted to leave the store. In fact, by the time I rounded the frozen food aisles and headed for the checkout, I knew if I didn’t get out soon, I would descend into hiccuping tears like a frightened toddler.

How had I ever coped with my old life, I wondered, with all the big-box stores and traffic and daily noise? How could I possibly ever go back?

Perhaps I’ve learned too well the preciousness of silence, to be so sensitive to its disruption. But go back I did, back to big-city life. Back to traffic and ticking clocks and Facebook.

Embrace silence and know you're loved.It hasn’t been easy. I tire more easily, and must make allowances to take care of myself. I’ve loaded a white-noise app on my mobile electronics, which at least masks other sounds—I let it play while I’m sleeping. And when I get a quiet moment, I revel in it, free of to-do lists or food or phone calls. Just. Being.

How’s your relationship with silence? Do you seek it or shun it? What would you do if someone offered you a 10-day experience of silence? What about a 10-minute experience?

Is your reaction different than it would have been ten years ago? Hmm. Interesting how things change. Maybe you and silence are ready to take your relationship to a new level.

Don’t worry. I won’t tell a soul.


Photo credit (shush): Mateus Lunardi Dutra

Soar winner, minus the poop on my legs

Turkey Vulture in majestic flight.
Given the chance to be a bird for a day, would you do it? What kind of bird would you be?

Me, I’d be a turkey vulture. Master of the air. I’d ride the thermals for hours on end. My wings would stretch wide and proud, creating a majestic silhouette in the sky.

Finding food, not a problem. I’d have sharp eyes and an olfactory sense so refined, I could find food miles away. My constitution could handle anything and my featherless head would enable me to push in and get all the good stuff without the embarrassing, “Oh, Sally, is that meat in your hair?”

But riding the thermals, that’d be the best. Up in the roaring silence. Wind in my feathers, I’d fly for the joy of it. At day’s end, I’d roost with my pals, all of us together. Maybe sharing our adventures. Maybe sharing silence, knowing our lives are good.

Perhaps I’d travel, not like migration—that seems such hard work. But I’d take my magnificent self to the mountains. Or explore the length of a river.

Chat with the natives.

Sample the local cuisine.

Ride the thermals until I no longer know where I am and, upon realizing this, rediscover myself all over again.

Texas bonus… in the summer, I would keep cool by defecating on my legs. (Not a strategy I’d be willing to try out in human form!)

So how ’bout you? If you dream of taking wing, I’d love to hear how you’d do it.


Photo credit: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK

The pleasure of summer showers

Photo of Sally's tiny, candlelit bathroom.
My bathroom (only just slightly smaller than actual size)
Bathing by candlelight. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. It’s taken the heat of another Texas summer to bring me back to this simple, sensual pleasure.

Exchanging “get up & go…”

In the winter, I love basking in the morning sunlight that beams through the little window in my shower. It energizes me. When days are shortest, I want as much sun as I can get.

Right now, though, days stretch out in lazy splendor. They bring chlorine-dipped days at the pool, dirt-dusted arms and legs from working in the yard, and skin coated with SPF, insect repellent and plenty of sweat. It’s nice to rinse off in cool water before bed.

…for “get on my glow”

So I venture into my tiny bathroom and forgo the bright bathroom lights in favor of a few candles. Their glow filters through the translucent shower curtain. It’s moody and relaxing and eases me into sweet, summery dreams. Ahhhh. I love this time of year.

Do your habits change to reflect the season? What sensual pleasures are you celebrating?

The Lovers: Tarot energy of 2013

Keywords: Harmony, decisions, union, rite of passage, romance.
Keywords: Harmony, decisions, union, rite of passage, romance.

The year 2013 is a “6” year in numerology. (We get that by adding 2 + 0 + 1 + 3 = 6) The sixth card in Tarot’s Major Arcana is The Lovers, so expect the energy of this card to be widely available. If you have any dreams or plans with a Lovers-like flavor, dust ‘em off and put them into motion—there’s lots of support available this year.

Under the energy of The Lovers, an overall strategy of cooperation (or collaboration) will be more successful than competition. This is the year to release thoughts of us/them in favor of seeking win/win solutions. It’s a time to remember that our decisions impact others.

"Cream & Sugar" in The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie & Dennis Fairchild.
“Cream & Sugar” in The Kitchen Tarot by Susan Shie & Dennis Fairchild.

Of course, there’s a chance of getting carried away with the feel-good, romantic energy of The Lovers. The shadow side of The Lovers includes the temptation to over-sacrifice in the name of harmony. Or to get so swept off your feet that you make decisions you later regret.

That said, The Lovers can provide a welcome spirit of optimism and an interest in working together. To repair/renegotiate/release inharmonious relationships. To explore what’s possible when we embrace a more romantic view of life. Who will we meet? How will we treat the people we love? What happens when we our decisions arise from love, rather than fear?

This is the year to find out.


Check out The Kitchen Tarot at Hay House. It’s currently featured for just $1! (Not affiliated, just a fan.)

Gift certificates available

giftcertmockup
Tuck one of my new gift certificates into a lovely metallic gold envelope (included) and voila, you’ve gift-wrapped a personalized experience of insight and perspective. Your loved one can redeem anytime within a year of your purchase.

envelopes_standard_gold

Gift outside the box

The gift of Tarot works for all the traditional gift giving occasions, such as birthdays, showers and graduation. It’s also a great way to encourage and support family or friends who feel a little lost, or are in the throes of massive personal growth.

Order them right here on the Tarot Readings page.

You have permission to be awesome

This year, I worked a Halloween party where no one had ever had a Tarot experience (or at least none of the folks who sat down at my table). What happened seemed truly miraculous.

Morgan Greer Tarot ©U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Man with the mustache

First, there was the woman who wanted to know if her husband was hiding something from her. I threw some cards. One landed face down, with the Knight of Pentacles atop it. (I was using the Morgan Greer Tarot from U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) I knew the knight was her husband, and he was hiding the face-down card. My client exclaimed the card even looked like her husband.

Morgan Greer Tarot ©U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
The pot of gold

Then there was the man asking whether his sales lead-generation program would be successful within three months. I turned two cards and asked which one appealed to him. Without hesitation, he pounced on the 10 of Cups, also from the Morgan Greer Tarot. When we completed the reading, he pointed to that first card and explained how perfectly its artwork reflected his company’s name.

Literal translations like this are fun, but the true miracles were the shifts I saw in these people. How their Tarot experience encouraged them and validated them. How they straightened their spines, carrying their chests high.

Transformations before my very eyes

Another client arrived with a beer in either hand. I doubt he’d have sat at my table without a little buzz on. But he became more and more focused as we went through his cards. More clear-headed and thoughtful. He seemed positively inspired.

Were these clients truly looking for insight, or simply taking advantage of the night’s judgment-free atmosphere to sit for a reading as a lark? It doesn’t matter. Whatever brought them to me, I gave them my best and was awed to witness what they offered in return. I’m so grateful.

Shuck the rules and discover yourself

At Halloween, costumes give us permission to behave strangely. Like demanding candy. Or requesting a Tarot reading. The usual rules don’t apply. And when everything is just for fun, it’s amazing how easily we find our wings and fly.

Of sleep, rest and other mysteries

Through my life, I’ve noticed three distinct kinds of sleepiness.

  1. Classic drowsiness.

    The body’s gently persistent call to sleep comes with heavy eyelids and heavy limbs. It’s difficult to summon energy for facial expressions, and easy to share murmured secrets. Even when it’s inconvenient, there’s a sense that it’s healthy and natural. This is the sleepiness that eventually overtakes children at slumber parties.

  2. Exhaustion or “over-tired.”

    This is the tired of final-exams week, a long-anticipated conference or a competition. A relentlessly overstimulated body/brain eventually runs out of juice. The head may ache, there may be dizziness or trembling, digestion becomes irregular. It feels like the machinery of the body is revving in neutral. And even exhausted as the system is, it takes awhile to fall asleep.

  3. Reboot.

    The wild card of sleepiness. When reboot comes calling, there’s a sense I’ll be powering down soon, so I may as well find a comfortable place in which to lose consciousness. Unlike the other two types of sleepiness, reboot can happen regardless of what’s going on in my life or how well rested I feel.

Reboot stalked me throughout the final week of August, along with some other physically intense symptoms which have since eased.

Until now, I’ve not talked about reboot. Is it common? Do you experience it?

Time was, I suspected drops in barometric pressure were responsible for reboot. But lately, it’s seemed more random. Maybe it’s connected to the uptick in solar activity. If you have insight, please share.


Photo credit: Big D2122