The 8-Fold Path-Step 5: The Scent of Silence

We live in a world where, at least for most of us, we can’t avoid talking at some point during the day. Over the past several weeks we’ve looked at various ways in which we can limit talking. Today, we’re taking a different approach. We’re going to look at our speech itself. How to infuse our speech with silence.

My speech at all times should be infused with the scent of silence.

Now what do I mean by “the scent of silence”? Namely this, that my words, volume, and tone of voice should foster a sense of quietude, a sense of peace and tranquility such as one gets from silence.

How do we do that? Let’s look at each of the above three factors I mentioned.

Words

We should carefully, thoughtfully choose our words when we speak. Instead of speaking as though we were imitating a machine gun, by simply slowing down and giving ourselves just a few milliseconds to think we can choose words that won’t agitate or upset or goad others. We can instead choose words that are neutral, supportive, and encouraging. Words which promote the effects of silence.

Volume

The volume with which we speak literally speaks volumes. Very often we speak much more loudly than is needed. This may be due to our being excited, or perhaps our own hearing loss, or simply force of habit. Whatever the reason, our voices often overpower others and loud voices are often irritating — especially if the speaker’s words are aggressive or challenging or smack of authority.

I first experienced this scent of silence in my grandparents’s home. They were soft-spoken people. I never heard them raise their voices. In fact, the joke was you could always tell they were having an argument because they were even quieter than usual.

My sister is the same way. Very soft-spoken. I feel badly when I go to her house because I tend to be loud; in part due to my failing hearing, increasing tinnitus, and force of habit. My hearing loss also forces her to speak louder than she normally does. Otherwise, I literally can’t hear her. But even though she speaks louder for my sake, she still scents her speech with silence by means of our next point.

Tone

By tone, I mean the general mood, feel, and manner of speech. Just like in music, where tone conveys the piece’s emotive quality by how it makes us feel and the mood it puts us in, so too with tone of voice. Soft and peaceful tones, instead of harsh and grating ones, convey the spirit of silence.

Just as when we carefully choose our words and consciously control our volume, when we carefully select our tone of voice we can promote silence in ourselves and in the world around us.

Speaking in such a way that reflects the peace brought about in us by the practice of silence can go a very long way towards the creation of an entire environment that is saturated with silence.

Practice

I encourage you during this next week to practice infusing your speech with the scent of silence.

Speak a little slower, choose your words carefully, soften your volume, and make your tone of voice pleasant and joy-filled.

Comments are always welcome and, until next time, enjoy the silence!

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