Creating Silence from Chaos

Post written by Leo Babauta.

We are often afraid of silence, because its emptiness feels idle, boring, unproductive, and scary. And so we fill our lives with chaos, noise, clutter.

But silence can be lovely, and therapeutic, and powerful.

It can be the remedy for our stress and the habits that crush us.

If we want quiet in our lives, how do we create it?

I’ve been exploring this myself. As a father of six kids, I have to admit that I don’t always have silence in my life. That’s not a complaint — I love the messy noise that my family brings — but silence can be a welcome refuge from that noise at times.

I create silence by subtracting, and not filling the resulting emptiness withe noise or clutter.

And so my life is a constant experimentation with subtracting. When I’ve subtracted, and learn to love the empty silence, I subtract some more. Subtraction is a beautiful process.

Prefer subtraction over addition.

Learn to be content with little, or nothing.

Realize that silence is beautiful.

Find yourself in the empty space that results.

Empty a room, and put almost nothing back except that which produces quiet.

Speak less, listen more, contemplate even more.

Walk in silence. Watch the leaves quiver, fall in silence, whisper in the wind.

Sit and do nothing. Listen to your mind make noise in the silence, allow it to subside.

Eschew video, iPods, books, the Internet, mobile devices, social networks, and other purveyors of noise.

Be quiet, so that life may speak.