In last week’s blog I wrote about getting “unplugged.” Removing all those things in life that we use to fill each and every moment. The news, TV, radio and “the busyness” that we use to avoid experiencing life as it is, right here and now. When we remove the many distractions of life, we find ourselves face-to-face with emptiness. There is no doing, no getting and no achieving. Just the present moment of silence and breath. In this week’s blog I thought I would explore more the rich experience of silence.

I have observed myself of late choosing to turn off all distractions. In doing so, I notice that there is a quiet stillness to each moment. I am more present and attentive to myself, my breathing and my thoughts. I have observed that the mind never stops thinking. Thoughts randomly surface without my conscious effort. Songs appear in my head or I may find myself focused upon an area of work or home life. At the same time, there is silence. I do not have distractions of the TV, radio or music playing. I am not rushing to go anyplace. I simply notice my breathing more and watch my thoughts come and go. Yet life’s moments seem somehow more palpable, simple and profound. Life is more real and yet less complicated.

I have observed that as humans most of us fear being alone. The majority of us would rather not be by ourselves, so we fill our lives with distractions. Silence is avoided. Our time is filled with friends, entertainment or escaping to another world in a book. Being busy is another way of avoiding silence. Filling each and every moment of our lives with something or some activity so we don’t have to stop and experience the moment right here and now. There is a lot of aloneness to the human journey. We feel separate from others because of our physicality. We are unable to merge or be as one with another. Our relationships bring us close but we can never quite experience oneness with others. We are born alone and will die alone. No one can do these things with us or for us. The human experience is one of aloneness. This is why love is so deeply profound an experience. Rising in love we feel the connectedness that is our true nature. We are a part of all and everything that is. The separateness/aloneness that our physicality creates is momentarily lifted as we get a glimpse of true consciousness.

There is a great deal of emptiness in the human experience. Without the distractions of life, there is only the presence of here and now. For many there is a great deal of fear in the present moment. We are confronted with ourselves, the good, the bad and the ugly. Most prefer not to face this truth and thus fill the emptiness with some form of diversion. Having to face ourselves brings up those dark corners of issues we would rather not see. The self-denigration about our appearance, or not being good enough or smart enough is there right under the surface. Focusing upon activities or other people’s faults is far more comfortable than looking in the mirror. We can’t escape from ourselves like we can from others. Wherever we go there we are. All the judgements we place upon ourselves is right there in front of us. Being with the stillness of a moment allows our own judgements to surface and that is a scary thing.

How can we get to a place of being okay with silence, with the emptiness of life where we have to face ourselves? There has to be a willingness to look in the mirror. We need to begin to accept and love ourselves with all our perceived flaws. Turning off the distractions has to become a conscious choice. We must choose to sit in our own stew moment-to-moment, without escaping. Truthfully, there really is no escape only distraction. There must be a conscious choice to be present in the moment. As with everything, it is not as scary as one believes it will be. The challenge is in our mind, as are most challenges. It’s our thinking that limits us not our living.

So, what is the experience of being fully present in the moment without distraction? It is difficult to put into words what can only be experienced. However, there is a richness to life that is founded in subtlety. Each moment has weight rather than being skipped over and discarded. A breath is experienced in its entirety and can feel like an eternity. One’s consciousness is expanded and at time can feels limitless. A thought surfaces, there is momentary distraction and then silent witnessing returns. In these moments, there is no desire, no craving and no suffering just the presence of being. I am enriched by the experience feeling the intoxication of the moment and yet I have not had a drop of elixir.

In the coming week, I challenge you to experience silent moments. Feel all that surfaces and notice your experience. Do you feel a sense of expansion or does fear surface? What thoughts come up and how are you distracting yourself? What’s preventing you from experiencing the moment?