I did something a few nights ago. More accurately, I did nothing at all. I sat in a room, quiet and dark. I wasn’t meditating, at least not in the way I’m used to. I moved everything away from me, especially electronics, and just sat. It was late enough that there was no activity outside. No children playing in the streets. No cars driving by. No doors opening and closing. There was still sound. Where I live right now, in a neighborhood surrounded by in Taiwan trees, the cicadas are always adding their buzzing to the background of life. The constant hum provides background music to my days. I remember they stopped once. That was nice.
There I was, in the silence -in what now defines silence for me- and I just sat. I didn’t ‘oohmmm’ or chant or take strong measured breathes in and out. When something came to mind, I thought about it. When I was done thinking about it, I stopped. What I didn’t do was respond to the urge to attend to anything.
I recalled a switch I’d forgotten to turn off downstairs. I ignored it. I wanted to fill my water bottle before going to sleep. It could wait. I didn’t do as much reading as I’d wanted to during the day. There was an e-mail I’d forgotten to send and an urge to go through the ritual routine of Internet checks: E-mail, Facebook, ESPN.com, in that order. Rarely do I feel better about myself after that process.
I responded to none of these urges. I sat and I looked around the room. Not the most exciting point of my day, but three days later those fifteen minutes have been the most memorable of the past week. Silence has long been something I’ve been fond of, sometimes even too much. I’m quick to anger when people raise their voice and grow frustrated when silence is disturbed by an outside source. But, at this time, it wasn’t the silence of the world I was concerned with. It was silence of my mind.
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