Counselor's Corner: Noise vs. silence

Fred Cavaiani

We live life with so much noise. Recently I was having a coffee and a sandwich at Starbuck's and noticed that everyone there was either on their phone, computer or iPad. Then there are the times I will be in a restaurant and someone will be talking on a phone and talk so loud that it is as if they believe if they don't talk loud the phone won't work. The constant activity in life envelops all of us. Everyone is busy. Each of us seem to always have something to do. Our heads are bombarded by "What should I do next." Though many people have jobs, everyone appears to also have an internal job of "getting something done." It is like our brains are filled with so much noise of busyness, words, conversations, social media, cell phones and text messages. Then there is the music we love, which becomes another noise of distraction.

When was the last time you remained totally silent for five minutes? When was the last time you read something spiritually and emotionally inspiring but read it at such a slow pace that you experienced every word in a most moving and inspiring experience?

I was in a Religious Order, the Capuchin-Franciscans for seventeen years. We had a lot of silent time in those days. I was with the Capuchins from the age of 14 until 32. I am still good friends with many Capuchin Franciscans. What I have noticed as I get older is that many of my confreres in the Capuchins live long lives. I am convinced that this is because they have known the value of silence, reflection and developing a deep and personal relationship with God. Many of my classmates are still alive and many of my old professors are still alive. Not only alive, but they are thriving and seem to send out this sense of joy and peace.

I have a number of friends who seem to be eternally young. In spite of personal losses of loved ones, these friends have a deep sense of joy and peace about them. I am convinced that this is because all of these friends, classmates and professors have taken daily silent time for meditation and contemplation. They know how to be quiet with their own personal self and sit with God, whoever God may be for them, in an open and receptive manner.

Noise can weaken us. Silence can strengthen us. I am grateful for my childhood in Upper Michigan where I often roamed through the woods soaking in the beauty of nature. I also remember talking with friends face to face and genuinely listening to each other without a cell phone in my hand to distract me. It is like silent times were part of life and eye to eye communication with one another was a daily part of life.

In every program I present I start with a silent meditation. Everyone seems to love this but most people admit that they seldom do this. Silence opens us up to our deepest self. It allows unfinished business of feelings to surface and be embraced, both painful feelings that have been blocked and also joyful feelings that have been pushed away. Silence is absolutely needed in everyone's life. It forces us to experience life in a deeper and more energized manner. The more time we spend in silence the more we discover God and the more we discover ourselves. When we avoid these silent times, we avoid becoming fully alive.

There will always be noise and busyness in each of our lives. But there should also always be time for daily silence and reflection in each person's life. It anchors us and grounds us. This daily silent time helps us to discover what life is really all about. It also gives us a wisdom and peace that feels like a daily oasis of self-renewal and comfort.

Certainly I have written about this many times in my articles. But repetition is really the mother of studies. It causes the basic principles of good living to become activated in our personal life.

I am grateful for the solid foundations I had in my early years with the Capuchin-Franciscans. As the years go on, I appreciate those solid foundations even more. Now it is a daily ritual of quiet silent meditation and contemplation. This has been going on for many years now. But there was a time in my life from 32 to 52 when I didn't implement this as deep as I do now. For the past twenty-five years I have been making sure I have a lot of daily silent time even though I have many commitments. All that I do in life must be an overflow of what I have experienced in my quiet time with God. This makes life amazing and joyful. What a blessing! What a privilege!

I have had many friends who have helped me on this journey. Many years ago I attended a contemplative weekend given by my friend Bernie Owens S.J. In his humble and open manner he reinforced these basic principles of silent reflection and contemplation. It was a profound renewal. He even wrote a book called "More Than You Can Ever Imagine," which describes this marvelous journey toward God.

It is good to have people in our lives who can reinforce this basic principle of silent reflection. We all need this. Start taking time to do this and find someone who can help you with this. It will dramatically change your whole life.

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@ yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.

Published: Tue, Oct 24, 2017

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