There are worse things than Silence” – Padmé Amidala


The Silent Cure

In silence there is peace and serenity. To be silent is to be like a still calm lake. Nothing disturbs us on the surface of things or within. Imagine being alone on that lake. The sun is shining. The only disturbance being the slight rock as you shift your weight. The hum of a passing dragon fly. That is what silence sounds like.

We also feel silence. By being silent we connect with something deep within ourselves. The watcher within emerges as the mind clears of thoughts and we become present in the moment. As our breath rises and falls we feel ourselves in tune with nature, the pulse of life. We are part of the cosmos on a tiny boat.

Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius


The Inner Silence

The world is full of noise. To escape the hum of civilization one must either seek solitude far from home or withdraw within themselves.

Seneca once said that we could escape to a mountain retreat or a secluded place on the coast. Unless silence is within us, we bring our mental noise with us. One can be on Mars in a lifeless wilderness and still not be in silence. Silence is within, it is not just to hold one’s tongue but to silence the mind and heart as well.

If our emotions are in turmoil, so is our mind and we feel forced to speak. Often it is in silence that we find the inner peace we seek. In silence we find the right things to do and say.


Speak softly

How often had we said a thing and wished we had held our tongue instead. Once words ill spoken leave our mouth they are beyond recall. Thoughts and feelings too can betray us as we yield to turbulent emotions.

To be Jedi is to know when to speak and when to hold silence. Emotions can be tempered, we can choose when to speak and what to say. While anger, fear, exuberance, impatience and annoyance may rise and fall within us whether we choose to energize those emotions is up to us. We decide how play out those emotions. You can keep calm and silent when angered or resort to harsh words and rash action.

“Silence is a lesson learned from the many sufferings of life” – Seneca

Silence is Golden

Jedi know the value of inner and outer silence. In recovery too we learn that silence is golden. We meditate to restore our balance and recharge ourselves. When others speak we listen in silence and without judgement. We also speak with clarity and purpose and express our thoughts calmly. Like Jedi we can guard our words but we do not ignore our convictions. Sometimes more is said with less.

Speech is silver and silence is golden. – Thomas Carlyle

Once upon a time I feared silence. Even as I sought to isolate I needed noise around me. If there was none my mind was agog with rampant activity. I could be alone but with enough alcohol there was a noisy party going on inside my head. Around people I spoke without thought or care. My words betrayed jumbled thoughts, anger, fear and hate. The more I spoke the worse I made things.

The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish” – Robert Greene

In conversation I barely heard the other person. I would cut in and talk over people. Ignore their point of view and use words to shore up my position. I betrayed my immaturity and inexperience. I would blow opportunities, put people off side and build obstacles for myself. As I dug a deeper hole I became resentful and found respite in isolation.


Return to Silence

These days I seek silence often. Finding turmoil and noise within me I settle it down. When I want to say something, I ask myself like Cato did in the Roman Senate “Is this better left unsaid”? Will silence serve me better than to speak my turn? If not speak mindfully and with confidence. To be silent could be a disservice. Sometimes speaking up is a duty.

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Martin Luther King

Today we are driven to be heard. There is a perception that to be silent is to not exist. Social Media demands our attention and we want to be heard. We join the din of the forum. Everyone is yelling but no one is listening.

Our ancestors lived in silence compared to us. Life was closer to nature and simpler. Words had more value. The ancients would find our world confusing, frightening and distracting. The natural state is to reside in tranquility. Our hearts yearn peace. There we find truth.

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Find Silence amidst the Storm

Imagine a still lake in the mountains if you will or a calm sea at sunrise. There is barely a ripple on the face of the water. You can hear your own breathing. A soft breeze touches your face. The silence encompasses all for an eternal moment. The light of sunrise falls on distant hills. Even the birds are subdued in the peace and serenity of the morning.

Close your eyes. Look into your mind and listen intently. Let the voices and echoes fade in to silence. Passing like clouds in the wind. Peer in to your core where the seat of emotions resides. Feel what is there. Let any tension in your body and residual emotions relax and release. Let go of any pain and fear. Relax in to the silence. Hold the moment.

You are one with the cosmos and one with all creation. You are a child of the Force.


There is Pleasure..

There is nothing like being in the Wilderness. The total absence of the noise of civilization; the hum of industry and traffic and blaring early morning radio. In the wilderness the song and the call of birds and the cacophony of insects fills the air as the sun rises and sets over a horizon devoid of artificial lights and the haze of pollution. The wonder of the night sky is filled with stars and we lose our selves in the mystery of the cosmos. To feel the living energy in an animal or a plant and to sense the weight of time in an ancient rock held in your hand. The realization that one exists but  as a solitary figure in the vast expanse of space and time. The Force is to be encountered in nature; living, raw and vibrant. Byron put it so well:

There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” – Lord Byron

In nature we begin to find ourselves. We connect with something that resides within us all; a deep seated knowledge of where we come from. In recovery I have rediscovered my love of nature and spend as much as I can in the outdoors. I am lucky, my work often takes me to wilderness areas that are untouched and pristine and rarely seen by others. The very proximity of nature heals the body, mind and soul.

With the tethers of society at least partially stripped away we can begin to look past the concerns of the egoic mind and body. Time slows down, the mental noise recedes in to the background and the senses become sharper. We are beginning to be as our ancestors were, close to nature and a part of it, more in tune with ourselves and the world around us.

Nature is not a place to visit. It is home” – Gary Snyder

Un-Natural State

It is said that we belong to nature, nature does not belong to us. We are inseparable from nature although we deny it. I was taught in school that man conquered the wilderness and tamed it, improved it. By destroying the environment we ultimately destroy ourselves.

The more people become separated from the natural world the more alienated they became from each other and more divided. Our natural predisposition is to be close to nature and to care for it. Reality has suppressed our affinity to nature and closed it out making it a resource to be exploited, bought and sold. How can that be when we are a part of nature, a strand in the web of life?

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” – Rachel Carson “A Silent Spring”

The Call

Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Jack London were authors who spent at least a part of their time seeking out nature and living in relative solitude. Emerson in particular saw the transcendent beauty in nature and the failure of humans to appreciate or reciprocate the gifts that nature bestows upon us. Emerson believed that in order to eventually transcend one must be fully engaged in nature. Jack London was a troubled alcoholic and an addict and his writings on nature in “The Call of the Wild” were vivid and violent and captured his yearning for the wilderness as well as his distance from it.

I often wondered if my alcoholism was a substitute for a deeper need, a yearning to be close to Nature. An unfulfilled need to run in the woods, climb mountains, swim in the surf and look up the stars. A symptom of my separation from nature through alcoholism. There was also a call, a yearning to reconnect because deep down we all feel that our home resides there.

“But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called—called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.” – Jack London “The Call of the Wild”

Worlds Apart

If you look at the entire Star Wars saga as depicted on film you will discover an amazing diversity of natural and built landscapes in the Star Wars Universe. The Immense desert planets of Tatooine and Jakku with oceans of sand, steep mountains and deep gorges. Naboo with its rolling hills, grasslands and woodlands. The waterfalls and rivers concealing underwater cities home of the Gungans. Kamino was the turbid ocean planet home of the Clone factories.

Hoth a frozen world, Mustafa a world of fire and lava flows and Bespin a planet of clouds. Dagobah was covered in swamps, mists and jungle. Endor and Yavin 4 were temperate worlds of Forests. Coruscant at the heart of the Republic seemed to be the only world that was truly civilized being a planet entirely occupied by a single mega-city. Coruscant was supported by countless other worlds, the seat of power it was the ultimate prize in the Galactic Wars. The Star Wars Galaxy presents a symbol of the tension between the natural world and civilization that we see on our own Planet.

In Star Wars the Jedi seemed to bridge the divide between Nature and Technology through application of the Force. The Jedi were acutely aware of the Force in nature and sensitive to it and knew that it flowed through all living things. They respected all life and were against the senseless killing of any life form or the destruction of the Environment. The Jedi could sense when wholesale destruction and loss of life had occurred.

“I feel a great disturbance in the Force as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced” – Obi-Wan Kenobi on sensing the destruction of Alderaan in “Episode IV” A New Hope”.

Step Outside

People who are close to nature because of an ethnic or cultural affinity feel real pain and loss when they see their Environment destroyed. To them it is like losing a part of themselves. They are no different to anyone else except they have not suffered the same level of separation from the Natural legacy that most people have. Most people don’t feel it as acutely because they do not live as close to nature as they do or we think we don’t need it. But we do.

We all understand the importance of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well being. Environmental well being is also important, to care for the Environment is to look after ourselves and others.

It’s our world, step away from the computer and go outside. Breath in and enjoy for a moment the beauty and serenity of Nature.


Until the time is right, disappear, we will. Master Kenobi, wait a moment. In your solitude on Tatooine, training, I have for you.” – Yoda “Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith”.

The Practice

Solitude is a practice that has been embraced by many Philosophies and Spiritual Traditions both in the east and the west. Most are familiar with the Christian mystic practice of seeking periods of solitude in the wilderness where one could pray, contemplate and connect with the Divine. Jesus would often leave his followers to wander the wilderness to commune with God. Judaism, Sufism, Buddhism and Taoism all place a great deal of importance on isolating one’s self from society for periods of time in order to achieve transcendence through prayer and meditation.

In Silence there is eloquence.” – Rumi, Sufi Poet

The Jedi in fiction also recognized the benefits of cutting themselves off from others in order to strengthen their connection with the Force. Solitude also conditioned the Jedi to the rigors of Jedi Service and cultivated the self discipline needed to practice non-attachment. Master Jedi Voolvif Monn was a recluse who shunned company and spent much of his life in solitude.

Following the destruction of the Jedi Temple and the purge of the Order by Emperor Palpatine, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda both spent years hiding in solitude.  In their isolation they kept busy planning for the return of the Jedi. Both achieved enlightenment during their reclusion.

Life of the Party

I understand isolation and solitude. Both terms for me have come to mean different things. Isolation was something that I did in addiction. Solitude is something I seek in recovery.

Originally I was a social drinker that needed the company of others when I was getting drunk. Friends and acquaintances were nothing more to me than “drinking props”. Being alcoholic I was unable to build normal relationships with people. Friendship, as most people understand it, did not apply to me.

Everyone I ever got intimate with was only familiar with my drinking persona. I was the likeable drunk who knew how to party hard. The guy who was your best friend and keeping you company all night and in to the day if you were ready to keep up.  When I was sober I was never interested in connecting with people, preferring to be alone. Being awkward in the company of others I also shut myself off from others when I was sober. If you did not drink or could not go the distance, I was not interested in you.

I could be surrounded by people during those days and still feel incredibly lonely. The companionship felt shallow and cheap.

Being Alone

I started to isolate in the latter years of my drinking as many alcoholics do. We are acutely aware that our drinking is no longer normal and no longer dependent on others. The need for social props disappears. We are also aware that when we drink we are no longer sociable. We get melancholy or irritated or silent. Conversation no longer interests us.

People party and celebrate life and if we are holding a bar up the chances are we would prefer to be somewhere else drinking alone. Eventually we retreat to someplace we can drink without distraction or interference. Alcohol is purchased in a semi clandestine way. We come in, head for the shelf with the cheap stuff, pay and leave avoiding small chat and eye contact.

In our isolation we drink and we swing from euphoria to a brooding darkness. As we get drunk we begin to form ideas and we verbalize them often to no one in the room. We argue with ourselves, at first grappling with our sick mental fog before fighting and then slipping in to black out. We Isolate because we are ashamed of who we have become.

Seeking Solitude

Solitude is not Isolation. Seeking solitude is seeking a place where we can be by ourselves to re-calibrate and become centered.

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Solitude allows us to discover ourselves, to feel our breath and the wind against our face. The sounds of birds, running water, waves at the beach, wind and rain become real. To be in solitude is to marvel at the wonder of nature and the mystery of creation and feel the spark of the divine within us. Life becomes simpler.

The things that we pursue in society no longer seem to matter, there is no conflict, no disagreement.One cannot gossip, cheat or lie or steal when truly in solitude and apart from fellow humans. Our senses become keener and every cell within our bodies vibrate with the essence of life.

Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Most of us cannot just drop everything and reside in a cabin near a lake like Thoreau did for a year. We can still seek solitude through time alone with a book, a walk through the park or sit in solitary meditation. I sometimes use exercise to seek solitude and will run for miles. I used to run to escape for a time from my troubles, I now run for serenity. The “loneliness of the long distance runner” can be bliss.

Isolation was to distance myself from people and responsibilities; solitude is there now to help me reconnect with the Force and with myself. Solitude is to be used sparingly and when needed, like medicine, it is a balm to the body, mind and soul.

Do you choose blissful solitude or do you choose to isolate?