“Why Silence Matters” from The Naked Voice
Categories: Excerpt Health & Healing Literature & the Arts Psychology & Personal Growth
by Chloë Goodchild
The following is an excerpt from The Naked Voice: Transform Your Life through the Power of Sound by Chloë Goodchild. Full of exercises and insight into the spiritual nature of expressing ourselves vocally, this book is an invaluable guide for anyone interested in speaking or singing to an audience, as well as sound healers, music therapists, and people wishing to connect to their inner selves more fully. Here’s an exclusive first look at The Naked Voice, which will be available in stores on May 5!
Why Silence Matters
Silence visits our lives in so many ways. Some experience silence as “golden.” Others find it austere and even frightening. There are so many silences: the silence of lovers embracing for the first time, the silence of a young child blowing dandelion clocks into the wind, the silence of the student in the examination room, the suppressed silence of the prisoner in jail, the luminous silence of the mystic in rapture, the courageous silence of the dissident, the armored silence of the victim of trafficking, the silent determination of the nonviolent activist, the austere silence of the old yogi who has been standing on one leg for the last seventy years.
There are contemplative beings all over the world right now sitting, standing, or walking in silence, dedicated to a lifetime of silence on the mountain, in the monastery, in conscious community, or wandering the world. These are silent beings we will never see, yet their silence activates a wondrous power whose life force is humming throughout humanity, streaming out across the globe and through the cosmic web of all life. This silence is a universe without words singing inside you.
No utterance at all, no speech no sound that anyone can hear
Yet their voice goes out through all the earth
And their message to the ends of the world
—The Jerusalem Bible, Psalm 19: verse 2
To access the silence of your contemplative heart you have to learn to listen with new ears—ears that are free of negative judgment, self-doubt, or fear. This listening establishes a lightning rod of attention within you, focused on one thing only: your naked voice, the sound of who you truly are.
Silence is not a passive blank realm. To access its depths requires first and foremost a respect for it, and more deeply a hungry longing for it and for the real sound within it, which passes all understanding.
To be silence we have to fully inhabit and be totally at home in our body-mind, at peace with ourselves, well-rooted like a tree or mountain. And then, from here, we begin to discover what it means to literally accept, embrace, and be who we are once again, sounding our truth, the original song of our spirit.
Silence is at the heart of The Naked Voice. In our retreats together, shared silence opens and closes the day. Silence is a unifying presence interconnecting all the spoken and sung practices. Breath work and meditative movement awaken the silent heart. Its presence instills our work with an inclusive awareness beyond reactive or rational thought. Silence deepens our self-awareness, dissolving separatist thinking, communications, and agendas.
This silence brings a natural mindfulness and spacious presence that interweaves its invisible music through all our practices. True silence constantly awakens the unifying presence of oneness inside every human heart. Silence is a sovereign presence, akin to the “zero point field” of quantum physics pervading the whole of life. . . . The silence I refer to here is not conditioned or unconditioned. It is not confined within the limits of time or space. This is pure and simple a dynamic silence, and in the words of quantum scientist David Bohm, an “undivided wholeness.” Its invisible power is fueling the living matrix of Life. I call this silence the unchanging note. Life is such a great mystery, and there are many reasons why we may suddenly be struck dumb, silenced by inner-outer circumstances. Speechlessness can be another way into the dynamic silence within you.
Do you remember the last time you were stopped in your tracks, disoriented for a moment and dislodged from the meanderings of your habitual mind, struck dumb, literally silenced by the unexpected? Maybe it was an “Aha!” moment of truth in which you were shaken into the immediacy of the present moment, quickened by sheer grace or beauty in front of you. It may have been a sudden awakening to a new love, the birth of a child, a near-death experience, a shocked remembering out-of-the-blue of something very precious to you, or simply the transforming gaze of a wise being sitting opposite you in the metro. In that moment you find yourself lost for words, beyond words. Words are simply inadequate to communicate this new vibration coursing through your veins, this radical aliveness that is silence.
Meanwhile an uncontrollable smile simply keeps shifting across your radiant face, re-shaping and shape-shifting your taken-for-granted reality, as you sit in a spacious and graceful encounter with silence.
Silence is an anchor that enables me to practice being nowhere. Being nowhere means doing absolutely nothing—not thinking, not moving, not doing anything at all. Simply being is a way to undo old habits, and is a very enjoyable practice. It has much to offer our crazy obsession with doing, living as we do in this doership-identified world. Being, or nondoing, is an awareness we can develop beyond all our conceptual thinking. And that is just what we will continue to un-do in the coming pages, through my personal stories of deep listening, together with the vocal practices that will invoke a deeper listening in you.
With being there are no maps. Being still inside and self-aware means we are awake in such a way that we are no longer identified with our fleeting rational thoughts and feelings. Rather, we are simply receptive to what is, moment by moment. Being still inside we are at home, in harmony with a wondrous invisible power that connects every beautiful cell in our body-heart-mind. This power moves like a fine gossamer of pure being, seamlessly flowing through every in-and-out breath, every thought, every decision, and every action.
To be-come a conscious human be-ing is to fully accept, embrace, and express everything that you are. Silence can be your teacher in this self-discovery.
Sound Awareness—A Listening Exercise
What is the deep listening? A message from the secret ones inside. . . . I would sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears when that one steps near to the center of my chest and begins to speak.
—Rumi, Coleman Barks translation (from The Glance)
The best way to begin hearing, exploring, and being silence is to sit, lie down, or stand in silence for, say, 3, 5 or 10 minutes. During this chosen time simply relax, watch, listen, and accept everything that is happening within and around you—all activity, thoughts, sounds arising in your inner-outer mind—with no attachment or any agenda, and no attempt to respond to or to judge what you hear, feel, or see. If it helps, simply ask yourself now and again, “Who is listening? Who is breathing? Who is thinking?” And accept whatever comes, and then let it go again.
Here begins the deep listening journey to the source of your sound.
Excerpted from The Naked Voice by Chloë Goodchild. (c) 2015, North Atlantic Books.Tags: Chloë Goodchild Performance Arts