Dutch-born theologian Henri Nouwen said that we are all called to be mystics. But, in a busy world with long to-do lists and lots of good Netflix shows to fill our spare time, what is the value in zipping our lips and just being?
Silence has a slew of benefits, from physical to mental. As far as spirituality is concerned, it’s not only useful for slowing down and calming down, but it’s also imperative in learning to listen both to yourself, to God, and to others.
Taking some time each day to just be silent and mindful can help you to focus on what’s weighing on your heart. It can help you to hear God’s voice in your life. And, it can make you a better participant in the areas of your life in which you’re not silent.
As I considered the value of silence, I called on Dominican Sister of Hope Associate and fellow Catholic Janet Corso who works as a Spiritual Director at Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center in New York.
Janet says that, on her retreats, she often encounters women who are initially intimidated by silence, but are soon surprised at how much they unconsciously longed for it.
“The more contemplative you are, the more you’re willing to listen to the movements of God,” Janet says. ‘To be contemplative means you have to befriend stillness and silence. It’s a path to a deeper relationship to God, to be able to listen.”
Quiet time doesn’t necessarily have to be still time. In addition to just being and listening, consider repeating a short prayer word (even a single word works!), practicing mindful tai chi, or engaging in a devotional prayer.
Once you’ve got the quiet down, try to carry that mindfulness into the rest of the tasks of your day.
Ask yourself today how you can take time to be silent, to listen to Him, to be fully present in the world around you. And then, when noisiness starts back up, carry some of that presence over to the rest of your day, whether it’s through a small prayer word, a breathing technique, or a simple utterance of gratefulness.
Gina Ciliberto is the Digital Media Journalist for the Dominican Sisters of Hope: 160+ Catholic Sisters who live hope in fifteen states and Puerto Rico. More about the Sisters lives and ministries at www.ophope.org