I remember being in college with the assignment to be alone and quiet for 25 minutes. We were to do this and report back our experience. One of my friends, a major extrovert, could not do it. She said after 5 minutes, she was done! I remember completing the project, but wondered about its value and purpose. Little did I know that in order to tap into our spirit, the heart of who we are, we need to be quiet to listen within.
Stephen Covey, best-selling author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, once said that we live three lives – our public life, our private life and our deep inner life. Our public life is the life everyone sees and knows on the outside. This is what most of us would describe as our work – engineers, teachers or community activists, etc… Then the second life we live is our private lives, the life we have at home. This is what our family or close friends experience who we are at home. We might be pursuing a hobby or acting another way that the majority of people don’t see from an outside perspective. Then the third life we live is our deep, inner lives. It’s our spirit, who we are from the inside. This place holds our greatest desires and wishes for our lives. It is a secret place that very few of us share with others. And the way to access and nurture this deep inner life is by being quiet.
Now, almost 20 years after my first encounter with silence, I love the quiet. In fact it is so quiet right now as I write this, all I hear is the tapping of the keyboard. The silence allows me to channel the wisdom from within to the wisdom I want to share without. So many times this channel is blocked or clogged with the noise of life. Great musicians say that their music is created between the notes, in the white spaces. It is these white spaces, the silent notes of their music, that bring life to the notes. Great inventors share a similar thought through the importance of incubating ideas. To incubate an idea is to detach from our previous conscious thinking, allowing our subconscious mind to come alive. When we are able to tap into our inner wisdom, our spirit soars. It is known that Albert Einstein, considered one of the most knowledgeable and greatest thinkers, spent endless hours in quiet – just thinking and imagining. These quiet moments of his life are when he was known to have manifested the greatest potential within him. It is also said that Einstein wanted to know how to think like God. So in order to do that, he needed to be quiet to hear God sharing His wisdom.
One of my favorite phrases is by Oprah who said that we need to catch God on the whisper. Hearing the whisper is about being quiet to hear the wisdom that our greater self and the higher power has for us. Many times I have used this philosophy and catch these messages when they come as a whisper. It was a whisper encouraging me to write my first book. Other times I have not listened and I’ve missed out on some good opportunities or learned some hard lessons. Yet when we don’t have those white spaces in our lives, we won’t have the space or capacity to find out what these silent messages are that come to us in the form of a whisper.
Martin Luther King would usually spend an hour each morning in prayer and meditation to get his day centered and on track. When the day would be extremely busy, while most of us would then skip this time to get a jump start on our busy day, he would spend not just one hour but two hours in quiet!!! Can you believe that? I’m always reminded of his approach when I try to fit as much in as possible. When I go without the quiet time, I don’t hear the whispers for my life. Also the music notes of my deep, inner life then don’t have the white spaces it needs to make the music I want to sing in my heart. How about you?
p.s. Because I’ve been quiet, this is probably one of the fastest and easiest blog entries that I’ve written so far. I didn’t really have to think and make it happen, it just came pouring out of me and my deep, inner life.
For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.
——————Janae Bower is an inspirational speaker, award-winning author and training consultant. She founded Finding IT, a company that specializes in personal and professional development getting to the heart of what matters most. She started Project GratOtude, a movement to increase gratitude in people’s lives.