Reflections from Michele Steckler
On the final day of last months CIYO II in Cappadocia, Turkey, I awoke to watch the sunrise, the sky dotted with silhouettes of hot air balloons floating over the valley. The cacophony of birdsong punctuated the otherwise silent morning air, and while cherishing the silence, I suddenly remembered that it was the last Sunday of April, the Chosen Day of Silence for so many women around the world.
Several hours later, sitting at a long breakfast table, I suddenly became aware of the silence. Ah… how nice to just be with everyone so quietly, perhaps due to fatigue or the emotions around our time together coming to an end. The silence was eventually broken by Zeynep’s observation, “Everyone is so quiet this morning.” I echoed her awareness and noted how appropriate it felt saying, “We must all be tuned into today being the Day of Silence. I was enjoying this bit of quiet as I so love practicing a Day of Silence.” Zeynep, ever curious, gently asked, “Why? Why do you like it?”
A dedicated Day of Silence gives me permission to pause. An invitation to re-orient, to see myself and the world around me through a different lens. Permission to let go of any “should” or pressure and just be with myself. To listen more deeply and freely. To notice what comes up more gently. Permission to not answer my phone, check email or feel bound to anything other than my Being in the world. It is a natural way to come home and re-member myself.
I appreciate the form and structure that such a practice provides. Once over the initial fear and judgment of, “what will people think,” the words now flow each month as I tell loved ones, “Tomorrow is a Day of Silence.” While perhaps not fully understood by everyone, it is respected. The message is clear… Don’t expect to hear from Michele tomorrow. Ah, what a relief. No expectations.
I expressed that the practice also lends itself to revision as oftentimes I am unable to join on the last Sunday, and so I choose another day. I enjoy many Mondays in silence as I find it a beautiful way to begin my week, setting the stage for more focused writing and productive work as the week unfolds. And finally I shared that it’s not an all or nothing practice, as carving out an entire day can be impossible for many with children and demanding jobs. Dedicating a morning, evening or even just one hour of silence on any given day can be nourishing.
Why do I practice a Day of Silence? A Day of Silence is how I refill my cup… Walking along my dirt road, through the red metal gate and up the steep hill that meets the sky. Clouds above and pastures below, holding me as I listen to my heart following the unknown. I realize that when I allow that space, something happens. A connection with the earth and with myself. Deep within me there’s a knowing, allowing whatever is present to unfurl into the Grace of Being.