"Silent night, holy night All is calm, all is bright"
Our house, pictured here, is nestled in downtown Eureka Springs. Downtown Eureka is often busy, hustling and bustling with visitors and locals, yet being in our home offers us a warm comfortable sense of silence, calm and peace.
A few months ago, my partner Jeff and I had a disagreement. This particular disagreement happened in our home. Usually, we resolve them fairly quickly and come to consensus and move on. This one, however, was different. While it took longer to come to a resolution, it resulted in a period of silence where we didn't engage, speak, or connect.
I love silence. I enjoy my times of silence and solitude but when one enters into silence under these conditions - it feels anything but peaceful, calm or even silent. While the lips may stop moving, the mind instantly begins racing so that when silence breaks, our lips are ready.
Silence is very complex and in our society, it is often a rare find.
When we're at home with our families, televisions and laptops are on. If we're at the gym, or in the car, radio and music is on and our headphones are on. We're on telephones, or moving from floor to floor with elevator music. Even in the seemingly silent office, the click-click-click of the keyboard and mouse in harmony with the tick-tick-tick of the clock on the wall remind us there is little silence.
Sound is all around us and so we've become uncomfortable with the presence of silence in our life. We all know that person that asks a question and while the other silently ponders the answer before speaking, the person who asked jumps back in to fill the silent void, which obviously was very uncomfortable to them.
We've also experienced awkward silences in a room filled with many people and the expectation is that everyone will be speaking and engaging with each other at all times. Or that nervous silence that comes from meeting someone new and not knowing what to say.
As Bob Edelstein, a psychotherapist, states, "The silence, the gap between our talking, if it is valued, will allow us to digest what we just said and to discover what we want to say next as it emerges in the present moment."
As a kid, connecting with other kids, I remember feeling that if there were any silent lapses in conversation, this probably meant that we weren't going to be friends for very long.
In a noise-filled world, where we are bombarded every single day, silence is golden time.
What should I watch? Where should I go? What should I purchase? Who should I listen to? Who should we vote for? What should we connect with? Social Media, and advertisements from every area of life hit us constantly and on most days, we're over-stimulated without even realizing it.
Find Your Golden Time Here In Eureka Springs
Arkansas is The Natural State and it is known for its abundant park and wilderness areas, with terrain encompassing mountains, caves, rivers and hot springs. The rugged Ozarks region, here in the Northwest corner of the state boasts hiking trails and limestone caves such as Blanchard Springs Caverns.
When I recently shared this with a work colleague, they stated that it's hard for them to find solitude in such a busy world, and when they do, they just end up feeling lonely.
These are two very different things:
Loneliness: 1) Being without company, 2) Sad from being alone, 3) Producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation.
Solitude: 1) The quality or state of being alone or remote from society. 2) Very comfortable being with only oneself.
Are we ever really alone these days?
I constantly receive emails. My phone is always on. Whether people physically surround me or not, there are human beings communicating with me.
While I have a personal trainer on some days, I mostly exercise every day alone. I have come to love my time lifting weights. But, as often is the case for most, I listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks while working out. Is this alone time?
I am taking up this subject today because it's important for all of us to be reminded of the power of silence and solitude. When we make this a habit in our life—both in small ways and in big ways, we can truly rediscover the inner voice of our heart.
Here in the Ozarks, the beauty of nature surrounds us every day and ever present silence is calling for us to find our quiet solitude and revel in it often.
Here, you could:
Go for a remote hike. Build a fire in the pit and get lost in the gaze of the flame as it flickers. Visit the lake. Visit a spa. Find a park bench in Basin Spring Park. Stop by one of the many flowing springs. Visit on our our many places of worship or simply stop up to see our statue: Chris of The Ozarks.
... to name just a few ...
When we find a place of silence to let our mind rest and remove the expectation and influence of others, we hear our heart speak clearly. We begin to use the power of visualization for our future.
We rest, reset and refresh.
Fortunately for Eurekans, we have natural beauty all around us here. Don't get me wrong, Eurekans and Eureka Springs are very busy at times, yet most of us do our best to influence (not only ourselves) but each other to take time to find silence and solitude and break the cycle of being lost in a perpetually busy state of being.
We encourage our visitors to visit here often and be influenced by us, our culture, our nature and that hidden "hard to describe" magic of this place. By being goodwill ambassadors of Eureka Springs and all it has to offer, we, too, find time to experience it all ourselves. Especially, the Silent Nights.
In taking time out to be silent at times, we all become better people and better equipped to show patience and love to others. This is one of the many ways that Eureka influences lives and pulls people into this magic.
Certainly anyone can experience silence at any time by simply seeking out that quiet place to sit for an extended period of time. But, in such a noisy world, solitude just doesn't occur naturally.
Set an intention to pursue your silence and solitude for a brief moment each day; but first know that for it to be pursued, it must first be valued and desired.
The benefits of silence and solitude in a noisy world are significant and life-giving. Bask and revel in the magical solitude and silence that is offered to everyone that seeks out and finds Eureka Springs.
Solitude gives us this time for self-reflection. It gives us the chance to look at the big picture. It gives us the chance to discover our true values (not the values society imposes on us).
Allow your silent moments to become holy to you. Cherish them.
Listen to the silence of nature here and hear your inner voice as it speaks to only you.