Have you noticed the vibrating white noise that rings in your ears in the quiet of night or in the depth of the forest, or the consistent rhythm of perpetual waves rolling up on the seashore, or the whispering tune of the wind dancing through tree branches? All a cacophony, or a symphony, of silence.

I’ve always had an interesting relationship with silence. Living out loud, living in cities, my life has been noisy, even cacophonous, so I have deliberately sought out quiet spaces, in the mountains, by the ocean, often in solitude. Recently I learned that I don’t actually have to go “outside” to find the silence; all I have to do is to go “inside.” Through our circles at Callanish, I have found that although my mind is often in constant chatter, there is also a silence that lives inside me, underneath or alongside all the noise. There is a peace that I can find even in the noisiest of places.

People often seem afraid of silence. On the first evening of our retreats, for example, when group members sit for the first time in a circle to listen to one another’s stories, the silence is uncomfortable. People often feel the need to fill any moments of silence with words, or a cough, a shuffle or a joke. Silence can be deafening and scary.

Through practice in our circles at Callanish though we learn to embrace the silence, and grow comfortable with the quiet spaces where nothing seems to happen, where everything is heard. I believe that it is in these spaces of silence, when no words are spoken, that our greatest lessons are learned. Silence wraps us in a cloak of comfort that eases our very cells to relax, and helps us to absorb all the goodness of being together. Silence helps us to ground our souls, deepen our beings, and encourages us to speak from our hearts.