Monday, May 31, 2010

Silence and Solitude

I've just finished reading a book entitled A Book of Silence: A journey in search of the pleasures and powers of silence by Sara Maitland. It's rekindled my esteem for a practice I've had almost all my life and is especially present in my practice of tapestry weaving. I have a great need to have large amounts of time dedicated to activities that do not require talking and tapestry weaving is one of those. This just may be my temperment and natural character. Or it may be a habit I acquired as a child because the adults present in my life did not engage me in conversation. Often, I was not allowed to talk. Other times no one seemed to be hearing me talk at all. I instead cultivated the practice of not talking. Sara Maitland says " ..... I learned that, in itself, a form of freedom; it generates freedom, free choices, inner clarity, strength. A freedom from one's self and a freedom to be oneself".

The garden has deepened my appreciation of solitude and silence. Everything happens there so quietly, imperceptible to human senses. Yet, it is such a vital place, teaming with life, so dynamic and so vibrant which indicates to me that silence and quiet is definetely not static or deadening. I transpose this rediscovered pleasure of working in silence. I 'transplant' it to my tapestry weaving, enjoying laying in the weft as though planting seeds in a garden. Seeds of awareness. Seeds of mindfulness. Seeds of creativity. Seeds that will grow with the right conditions, into vital, vibrant and dynamic works of art.

In silence, thoughts and ideas come to the fore that would not otherwise. In silence my focus becomes sharp, my thoughts and ideas more clear. In silence I accumulate the energy I will need for planned activities and actions, or periods of talking time. Sometimes while in periods of silence, I think nothing is happening. It feels static. Whatever is going on is not immediately accessible to my awareness.

I appreciate Sara Maitland sharing her research and thoughts about silence. Social pressures were beginning to make me feel that silence is some disease. Other people are often uncomfortable with silence. I have renewed my regard and respect for this practice. It has returned me to honour my inclinations and urge to self possession.