Silence & Solitude: Two Necessary Conditions to Center & Find Yourself

The book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport has put it quite clearly: we are distracted all the time. Whether by social media notifications or an incessant urge to keep ourselves up to date with the last piece of news, the truth is that we got used to fill silence and solitude with technological noise and people only half-present in our life because they (and us too?) somehow lost their capacity to stay present and connected to others in real time.

If you live in the city, and nowadays it happens even if you live in a remote area, it’s hard to have a segment of time that honours silence. It seems there is always some background noise disturbing the peace of your ears. Dogs that bark all the time, people speaking loudly on their mobile phone, noisy car engines, and the occasional honk, just name a few. Even within your own four walls you can still hear the next door couple’s argument like if it was a reality tv show playing in your living room.

Most people I know have the need to be loud and I don’t know if someone already thought about this but such behaviour makes me wonder what’s behind it. I believe it is a need for calling other people’s attention. It’s their way to make others notice them and eventually join them. As a highly sensitive and intuitive, I have no joy in taking part of such dynamics, even when it’s my family I’m talking about. I actually avoid and run from their noisy way of living as much as I can.

I also think people are afraid of being on their own and in silence, because that forces them to look within at some point. When you are by yourself, you are not affected by other people’s mental and emotional energy, so it becomes clear what’s going on in your own self. Most people don’t like having such an alien experience, since it requires you to look at aspects of yourself that you have probably ignored or actively chosen to dismiss.

How can you center yourself though, if you are not willing to look within and get hold of your thoughts and emotions? The cost of living away from your center is separation, suffering and distress. Why? That’s when your decision making about life and your routines become slaves of your distorted and automatic cognitive functions. You think you choose how your day unfolds, but you don’t. You simply react to reality instead of responding to it.

When you react to reality, you are opting for a mindless way of being. When you respond to it, you are choosing a mindful way of being. In other words, you are operating based on your higher consciousness and not from the ego that believes the world is faulty and that life is just a painful experience that entertains us. Do you know what I find most dangerous about this? It’s the fact that many people don’t even realise they belong to this last category of experience, because they never have the time and the solitude needed to observe life and the way they behave.

You can only find your center, the position to understand yourself and the way you live reality, by creating and giving yourself the solitude and the silence you need to analyse the way you live and be. You can’t find your center if you are constantly distracted by other people and the loudness that permeates this post-modern society where the individual doesn’t even know about his or her own process of individuation. Jung is known for having defined such experience as the transformation of our psyche so that we become who we are destined to be and follow our purpose by confronting and making our unconscious conscious. How can you do this if you are mostly alienated from yourself?

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