"Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm." - Thomas Merton
I've just returned from a seven-day silent retreat. And of course, the first thing I want to do as a human being is talk about it. The irony, right?
I often hear some of my students say that they find meditation boring. But the truth is that awaiting discovery in silence is a fullness and a richness that is beyond our capability of measuring or describing. It needs to be experienced to be truly understood.
Silence is more than soundless-ness "out there": it's what's always sitting in the background of our experience. Noise comes in many forms, including our thoughts, emotions, beliefs. The "I" that we take ourselves to be likes to chatter - either aloud or within the mind with itself. It's constantly narrating. Who, exactly, is it talking to?
The reality is that this "I" is just another thought, always late to arrive on the scene. There is just listening, breathing, feeling, living. And you don't have to take my word for it. Sitting a moment in quiet it is possible to observe how "I" appears after doing has happened to proclaim: "I have heard", "I have breathed", and "I have something to say about it". And, as long as we're engaged solely in this chatter, in sound and movement (internal or external), we fail to see the silence that's always been there even as movement of sound appears and disappears.
Pure silence is beyond just mere quiet. It is what we are before, during and after sound arises. But, and here's the beautiful thing, it's sound that showcases the silent stillness of our essence. After all, how could we possibly know one without the other? We don't have to push noise away. We just have to ardently inquire into what else is here other than sound. Ask yourself how it is you know sound in the first place.
So maybe take the time to plug into quiet. Become technology-less for a while, maybe an hour, an afternoon, a day. Discover for yourself what silence has to say: you are first and foremost pure - Still - Vast- Silent Awareness experiencing sound.