An Orientation to Silence

If you are interested in the spirituality and psychology of silence, but are new to the idea of intentional silence, where do you begin? How do you orient yourself to the world of silence that is always available to you, right here and right now?

Silence perpetuates its life as being wordless, empty, and nothingness; and at the same time, everything, and whole. Not only does it make it infinite, but it points to its wholeness. — Cassidy Hall

Today’s episode of our podcast explores a concept that arose from an interaction between Kevin and a new listener of the podcast, that recently took place on Facebook. Realizing that we did not have a single episode that functions as a kind of orientation to silence (as something more than just the mere absence of sound), we set out to record this episode to fill that gap.

An orientation of silence centers around these questions of, “Is silence a silencing? Is it an opening? Is it an invitation?”… When you orient toward silence, maybe the first orientation is toward ambiguity.” — Kevin Johnson

We hope that if you are new to the podcast (and to intentional silence), that this episode will help to you get a sense of where we are coming from, and our philosophy behind why silence matters. But even if you have been listening to us since our first episode almost two years ago, we hope that this will be a helpful conversation — since we are all, always, continually invited to recalibrate and reorient ourselves to the gifts that silence has to offer us.

We find silence, paradoxically, in the absence of silence; that there’s something about the absence of silence that can pivot us back deeper into it. — Carl McColman

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

Carl, Cassidy, and Kevin

Episode 81: An Orientation to Silence
Hosted by: Kevin Johnson
With: Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall
Date Recorded: November 25, 2019

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Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

1 Comment

  1. Encountering Silence–

    In the Spring 2008 issue of Parabola the editor brilliantly introduced the issue with: “More than one reader of Parabola suggested for our issue on Silence, we publish 128 blank pages. For what is there to say about silence that doesn’t violate it? Perhaps in the end silence must be met with silence. But we are in the middle of our journey, not at its end.”

    I love that Encountering Silence has taken up the challenge to orient towards silence in this episode.

    I have but one thought or two to offer about orienting to silence. It seems to me if one doesn’t know what silence is, one choice could be to practice the ancient teaching: “Be still and know that I am God.” Being still is an amazing invitation to silence.

    I also recently came across a dharma teaching from the Zen Mountain Monastary. This teaching digs deep into listening to silence.

    I hope these offerings are helpful.

    Many blessings,

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