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Can you hear the quiet?

There is so much noise that I fear we have forgotten how to listen to silence. Perhaps I should say listen to the quiet. In either case, it might sound like an oxymoron or just plain nonsense. But it can be a very beneficial experience.

For one thing, you have to focus your attention away from the noise to do it, so just being aware of the amount of noise in your life can help you become centered. Begin by separating yourself from all the man-made noise -- find a place away from every screen or speaker, conversation that you are part of or overhear, traffic, airplanes, footsteps, music. Even the fans running your printer and computer and other electronics make noise. You will hear noise that you don't even notice by turning things off. To the best of your ability, shut out all this external noise. I know this is hard to do but just trying to get close to silence will make you aware of just how much noise surrounds us.

Perhaps you know of a room where you can go, a quiet house of worship, an outdoor sanctuary. Notice as you remove yourself from noise and become closer to your quiet place how the silence grows, and let that be a source of restful comfort.

Of course, listening to the quiet means that you are not in a place of pure silence. That's not the point. Just approach it by moving away from the noise, and attend to the gradual shift away from noise toward quiet. You may notice new sounds that you simply did not hear before. You may hear the sound of a bird walking on dry grass. You may hear the sound of tires on a highway a mile away. You may hear someone murmuring prayers. You can continue to seek even quieter places or simply notice the difference between everyday noise and quieter noise. When you have settled in your quiet spot, rest there and take three full relaxing breaths.

And appreciate the silence. Remember that it's there for your restoration whenever you want it. Don't let the din cause you to forget.

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