One Mouth, Two Ears

The philosopher Zeno once observed we have only one mouth yet two ears for a good reason: listening makes more of a difference than talking.

When we are silent and open to thinking, or quiet and open to learning, we almost exist in an extra dimension. Some might even say the ability to go silent is a superpower. Being silent better prepares us to learn to minimize noisy distractions and stimulations. Eliminating sound creates more room for deeper understanding and awareness of what’s around us and within us.

Thoughts will not work except in silence.
– Thomas Carlyle

The path to better listening lies in becoming better at silence. Learning to be silent, and steep in that world of quietness where epiphanies and creative ideas can bubble up to the conscious surface, is a sure way to increase one’s awareness within.

  • Composer John Cage, well before his famous (some would say infamous) 4’33” composition, visited an anechoic chamber, a special room designed for complete silence. Is there such a thing as complete silence? As Cage discovered, no. He heard two sounds, one high and one low, that upon discussion with the chamber’s engineer, were Cage hearing his own heart pumping blood and nervous system firing throughout his body.
  • In Helsinki there’s the Kamppi Chapel, designed not for worship but for seekers of spiritual quietness amid the noise of the surrounding city.
  • A study of hundreds of CEOs and financial leaders revealed a common aspect in how they spent their downtimes: activities ensuring an absence of voices.

So set aside some time each day, matters not how little or much, to sit in silence and embrace the absence of outside noises and voices. Over time, you’ll become a better listener and more aware of your own valued internal thoughts.

That quiet is so rare is a sign of its value. Seize it.
– Ryan Holliday

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