Silence is a Sanctuary

when you hear your lover breathe
it's like the rhythm of a drum
when a baby cries in the middle of the night
sometimes we don't need words to figure what we feel
sometimes it's just a touch or the breath or the rush of the fear in you
said it all…without saying a word
when a moment can be heard 

-Billy Mann, "Said It All"

I suppose it's kind of ironic for a therapist to revere silence; after all, it IS called the "talking cure." I have come to cherish and learn so much from silence, from breath, from the spaces between the words. 

The wind in the trees, the quiet stillness of an early morning walk on the beach, refuge from the relentless noise of the world. 

Listening to the silence is not about being collapsed; rather, it's about being in a state of active receptivity. 

Chosen contemplative silence is fundamentally different from withholding silence. It is open and generous, not defended. Chosen silence rests on a foundation of trust, not fear. 

Chosen silence can be an invitation for the truth to emerge in words, in the body, in tears. 

So many of us have been socialized to feel awkward in silence, or to think we need to fill up silence with needless chatter. When there is room for chosen silence, listening to the spoken words is even more powerful.

Silence has also been used to terrorize people, as in situations of abuse, or keeping family secrets, or enforcing power through silence. This is not chosen silence. It is silence as a weapon. When people break this kind of silence with words of truth, it can ultimately allow them to reclaim silence as a source of healing. 

I am grateful for intentional silence, for those moments alone or with other people when we consciously choose to welcome silence as a sanctuary.