I drew a Tarot card this morning as the start to my monthly day of Silence, and the card I drew ~ The Moon-Mystery ~ was the same card I drew when I asked the question about whether to extend my personal practice of Silence to a wider world of women. As I mused on this connection I realized that it was about three years ago that I began my own monthly practice. I commitment I have kept during that whole time regardless of what was occurring on any of these particular Sundays. As I contemplated this awareness, I began to get an insight into why, for me, this monthly practice and discipline has been so vital and so rewarding. The phrase “a room of my Own” was what came to me as I tried to capture in words what my actual experience had become.
The monthly discipline of Silence has created one day a month that in an external sense I dedicate to myself. Because I am not speaking I end up listening more directly to all the “conversations” that take place within my heart and psyche. It is truly extraordinary to really listen to both the range and at times the absurdly repetitive nature of my own thoughts. And because it is a day of Silence, I also tend to choose to not fill the day with what could be called “distractions”: TV, books, lots of projects to get done, emails, and other kinds of work. This means that I am truly left with whatever self-created machinations are currently in my consciousness.
The wonderful result of this awareness is that although I can deliberately remove myself from the more external world around me in a kind of “outer room of my own”, I have not realized that I have the same level of choice when it comes to the “”inner room of my own”, i.e. what goes on in my momentary consciousness. Although at times it really does seem that I have no control over the flow of thoughts that surf through my mind, in fact I actually do. I have WAY more options on that score than I ever imagined.
For example, this morning I noticed I was thinking about a person I work with quite often. As soon as I realized that this person was in my “inner room” I got a big smile on my face and thought to myself ~ “Although I do love you and am glad to work with you, on my days off I would like to spend them in some other way.” So, I shifted my inner focus to me and my own life as it is currently unfolding. Gently and with intention I began to just migrate my consciousness to an open space where I could begin a direct engagement with myself: my feeling, what questions are really on my mind, what conversations would I have with me if I really let there be some space to do so.
I do have a couple of daily practices that at least get me in the general vicinity of this “room of my own” inside. Practices such as meditation and self-attunement are two such examples. The difference, however, is these a specific practices of emptying out. The practice I became aware of this morning was one of conscious and intentional engagement ~ kind of like a mother deliberately sitting down with a child to listen. Just to listen, not to give advice or to scold or to point out what the child needs to do to get her personal or professional “act” together. To listen.
It dawned on me that learning how to do this a decade or two ago, I might have made some very different life choices. I might have made choices that were more directly in line with who I am most deeply rather than seeking to live out who I thought others wanted me to be or needed me to be or would rather I be.
The beauty of coming into my fifties is that this tendency to live out of the voices of others begins to really lessen, and the voice of Self seem to come much more quickly to the surface.
Anyway, this is a day of Silence and I don’t usually spend it on the computer so I will stop writing this now and sink back into the actual experience. Just seemed valuable to capture these momentary perceptions directly lest they fade away again out of sight and give way to a “room full of others” instead.