Monday Musings
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The Blessing of Silence, Part II

Tower House Grenada

Tower House garden in Grenada

A few weeks ago I wrote about the blessing of silence, meaning “quietude” as opposed to the “silencing of voices.” Rebecca Solnit, in her most recent collection of essays entitled The Mother of All Questions, notes that silence is crucially different from quietude.  The latter speaks to the absence of noise – which is sought – while the former speaks to the absence of voice, which is too often imposed.

Little did I know that the Friday before my last post on this topic, the Harvard Business Review had published an article entitled, “The Busier You Are, the More You Need Quiet Time.”  My colleague Barb Gibson sent along the HBR article which began with a quote from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates who argued that serious thinkers and writers should get off Twitter, in a call to “get beyond the noise.”  It isn’t just writers who suggest that periods of silence are valuable.  Medical researchers have found that “taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our mind to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us live, work, and lead.”  Real sustained silence, the kind that “facilitates clear and creative thinking, quiets inner chatter as well as the outer.”

The HBR article provided some practical steps to facilitate silence, including using five minutes at the end of meetings for a period of silence, taking the occasional afternoon off for a silent walk in nature, and going on a media fast for several hours or a full day.

Cultivating silence can increase our chances of “encountering novel ideas” and discerning “weak signals” from the constant verbal agenda that goes on in our head.  It isn’t easy, but cultivating silence in our lives can be done with some creativity and commitment.

Many celebrate this season as one of renewal, rebirth, and redemption.  Quietude can be a great way to focus on those themes in meaningful ways.

Have a great week.

More to come…

DJB

This entry was posted in: Monday Musings

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I am David J. Brown (hence the DJB) and I originally created this personal blog more than ten years ago as a way to capture photos and memories from a family vacation. After the trip was over I simply continued writing. Over the years the blog has changed to have a more definite focus aligned with my interest in places that matter, reading well, roots music, and more. My professional background is as a national nonprofit leader with a four-decade record of growing and strengthening organizations at local, state, and national levels. This work has been driven by my passion for connecting people in thriving, sustainable, and vibrant communities.

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