An exercise in silence is hard for many to do

Here’s a personal exercise you should definitely try, from everyone’s favorite neighbor, Mister Rogers. Go ahead, try it…you might be surprised how difficult it really is.

“Here’s a gift you may not have expected. It’s a gift for you to give yourself. Sometime in your day today, try to turn off all the noises you can around you, and give yourself some “quiet time.” In the silence, let yourself think about something. Or if possible…think about nothing.”

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

But we’ve become a society that simply cannot function without continual audible distractions. It’s almost as if the noise in our lives serves as a kind of coping mechanism to cover up reality. I mean what other reason would people have for finding it so incredibly difficult to have a little quiet time in life?

Rogers goes on to say, “Most of us have so few moments like that in our lives. There’s noise everywhere. There are some places we can’t even escape it. Television and radio are probably the worst culprits. It’s so tempting for some people to turn on the television set or the radio when they first walk into a room or get in the car…to fill any space with noise. I wonder what some people are afraid might happen in the silence. Some of us must have forgotten how nourishing silence can be.”

I’ve tried this silence exercise many times so far, and while my mind does drift to thoughts and situations that are more challenging and difficult than pleasant, the silence helps me to see things more clearly – to focus my undivided attention on what they mean and how I choose to deal with them. That’s not to say that silence is some kind of cure all, but sometimes clearing your mind and just being can actually bring about a kind of peace.

“It’s a time away from outside stimulation, during which inner turbulence can settle, and we have a chance to become more familiar with ourselves. How many times have you noticed it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?” Fred Rogers.