Sitting at my dining table, I am suddenly aware of the palpable silence.
I live on 14th Street in Manhattan, just off of Union Square. The double wide street is always active, and a steady stream of noise is a part of my soundscape: sirens from fire trucks and ambulances, honking horns, city busses. For the most part, I tune it all out.
Today is different. I have not tuned it out; it is simply not there. Other than the occasional hum of a passing bus or car, there is no noise from the street.
The silence is almost deafening.
It takes a moment to notice that it is not only the external noise that is missing. Internally, too, I hear silence. I suddenly realize that the voice of my inner critic is not in my head today.
She is not telling me that I’m a failure for not having it all figured out on January 1. She is not urging me to rush with a blog post about my themes for the year. She is not cracking down with the whip and a list of things to do.
Sitting here, at the table, I close my eyes. I focus on my breath. I feel my heartbeat. I listen to the sounds of silence around me, and within me.
This is magic. And, it occurs to me, perhaps a gift that comes after cultivating a daily meditation practice.
There is no rush. There is no urgency.
This is what I want to feel every day.
Silence. Savoring. Softness. Peace. Tranquility.
I feel my breath move through me. I feel aligned with the natural rhythms of nature and with my own values.
I am engaged with the world around me in a deep way, where I am present to the vibrations of the universe. Where I notice the hum of the bus as it stops across the street. Where I hear the soft tick of the minutes on the clock in the bathroom.
A previous version of me would have woken up today feeling anxious about not having it all “figured out” by January 1. But I’m not anxious today. I feel at peace. It feels strange, but familiar — like an old dress that you find in the depths of your closet and discover that it still fits. I feel the breath move through my body. I feel alive.
I have no illusions that my inner critic has abandoned me for good. I am sure she will return at some point. But for now, at least, she has retreated. She has left me alone in silence.
It is a measure of my growth that I am able to sit in this space I created for myself. In this moment, I’ve released the pressure to fill it with planning and doing. Instead, I am savoring it: the strong beating of my heart, the breath moving through me, the feeling of peace and calm and ease.
I allow myself to simply be. For I have learned that there is no greater act of productivity.