Monday, September 07, 2009

Life Lessons: Solitude and Silence

This week I read Anne LeClaire's new book, Listening Below the Noise: A Meditation on the Practice of Silence. The book describes her experience of practicing total silence on two Mondays each month for over seventeen years.

In LeClaire's chapter on "Nourishing the Creative Self," I appreciated what she says about the power of imagination:

"Today our imaginations are under siege by a constant barrage of noise and busyness. Our culture regards solitude and silence as something to be avoided. We would rather scrub grout than spend expended time alone.

A high cost comes from this. We have lost the path by which we journey to the place deep within where dreams and stories and visions appear. As Picasso noted, solitude is necessary for this work. In silence's calm surrounds, we discover the power of imagination and throw open the gates to creativity. In the opulent luxury of solitude, time becomes elastic and creative impulses surface and are allowed room to breathe. Sitting quietly, we gently enter our own inner worlds. Daydreaming, Woolgathering. Lost in space. These are rich and fertile activities. The playgrounds of imagination."

Thankfully, at this stage of my life I have many hours of solitude each week -- some of the time in silence (but never full days like the Ms. LeClaire). Knowing how important solitude is for nourishing my creativity and inner life, I may well give the author's practice of silence a try. I definitely want to reduce the noise and distractions in my life and would welcome an upsurge in creativity. Her experience transformed her life, igniting her creativity and fostering new connections with others, with herself, and with nature.

I enjoyed reading about Anne LeClaire's discoveries from answering an unexpected call to "Sit in silence." Now the question for me is "When will you start?"

If you decide to read the book, please send along your comments. Or share your experiences of silence and solitude.

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1 comment:

Gunnar Berg said...

Have you read "Teaching a Stone to Talk" or "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek?