Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Thursday's Silence Class

Chandrea's picture

"Sometimes it's harder to attain inner silence than outer silence. The dog stopped barking and the kids have gone to bed, but your mind has a lot to talk about and it knows you can't pretend you're not at home." -Linda Solegato

I stumbled across this quote today and it reminded me of Thursday's class with Professor Beard. I thought she had such a peaceful presence about her, but the end of the conversation made me a little uncomfortable. We talked about the Chittister text and our discomfort with silence because "it is silence that brings us face to face with ourselves" (Chittister).

The conversation forced to me to reconsider how I self-reflect - or don't - and I think I resisted doing that all along by keeping myself busy. I think it's easy for me to overwhelm myself with work and forget to relax and enjoy the silent moments in my life. I liked Professor Beard's suggestion that we take little walks in silence (and that a trek through the Valley of Death ought to do the trick). Even now I forget to take it easy when I go through said valley because I'm always thinking to myself, "Gotta get to class, gotta grab lunch, can't forget to print that paper in Canaday..." and I don't allow myself to enjoy the brisk walk. I'm going to try to incorporate more fun/relaxing moments in my day. I think there is this issue on campus concerning the mental health of the students and I've definitely had moments where I felt like I needed more support in that area, so hopefully doing these little things can help me do my best here. I think I've lost my sense of spirituality because of my workload and I need to work on creating a healthy balance between the two.



couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture


Thank you to both of you for your honest reflections (I kinda want to go back and revise my own now--I was a little pessimistic about people's desire to live silent practices). I just wanted to throw out a question and a comment. Hsburke, is it possible that the time you take to think about the relationships you have with friends is a silent practice? You are not independent of them because it takes two or more to have a relationship! So I think that when you reflect on them, or a certain individual, you are also reflecting on yourself--they influence/make who you are.

I also like that you brought up dreams and SO wish we had talked about them more in relation to silence. Funny that when Chittestir pointed out that we fear ourselves in silence I was so quick to think "Well...not me!" But your thoughts on dreams made me reconsider. I fear my dreams--an internal, sometimes quiet, part of myself--because they are random, sometimes scary and realistic. I hate that even when I don't remember the dream, I wake up heavy with the feelings, good and bad, I had in them.

I guess another layer I will add is that I was all for our silence activities in the class because, often times, I am not uncomfortable in silence. But now that I have reflected on dreaming, perhaps its not that I was not uncomfortable  but instead I could control what silence represented to me during silence activities, or the nosies that filled my silence, more so than I could in a dream. I have no control over what I dream about and I am certain that has a lot to do with my fear of dreams and "facing" myself. But this realization is confusing, because I am not aware of what I am not confronting.

Again, thanks for the great reflections!

360 love,


HSBurke's picture

Hi Chandrea! I also was

Hi Chandrea!

I also was wrapped in thought about myself and my own silence practices after our class Thursday. The quote Anne read from at the beginning of class by Sister Joan coupled with Linda-Susan's relationship with silence led me to think about my own practices of self-contemplation, or rather, lack thereof. It comes as no surprise that I'm busy -- we all are! I've loaded myself with multiple jobs, classes and committee positions -- responsibilities that leave me almost no time for anything else. When people ask me how I do it, I typically respond with, "well, it's hard but it keeps me busy. I like being busy." This is something I've always know about myself, but until Thursday's class I hadn't really looked at it from the other way. What do I run from by keeping busy? What could I possibly gain by going, going, going, catching a few hours of sleep and doing it all over again? As you've aptly quoted, perhaps I am uncomfortable with the idea of free time because "it is silence that brings us face to face with ourselves," and that is something I don't want to see.  While I recognize the danger in this, I'm not completely sure I want to give up this lifestyle quite so easily, because it has a lot of offer. I see my constant movement as adding a layer of spontaneity to my life and my opportunities that didn't exist before. I've stumbled upon more experiences, amazing people, jobs and ideas this semester thanks to the kinetic energy that pushes me from one place to another. I feel the most fulfilled this semester than ever before, and I think it has to do a lot with the fact that I need to be active to enjoy myself. When I do, however, get to finally relax and enjoy Apples to Apples with friends, I would much rather reflect upon my relationships and how happy my friends make me when were all together than turning inward on myself. I guess in sum I struggle with prioritizing this practice. I don't see it as becoming a key part of my daily life but I can see that I've left no room for it in my current state, and that is problematic. Something I've been thinking about lately (and I'm going out on a limb here so stick with me!) are dreams. I've been noticing that this semester I've been dreaming with more frequency than ever before. They are so vivid and hectic that I often wake up feeling more exhausted than I was when I went to sleep. I wonder if, maybe, all the inner thoughts that I hold caged up during the day because of lack of time and energy to contemplate them spill over at night. Maybe my dreams are the only time my brain has to be honest with itself...