While on vacation this summer I woke up one morning with swimmers ear. If you don’t know what swimmers is, it’s essentially an infection that causes the ear canal to swell shut. It’s annoying, uncomfortable, and painful if left untreated. The biggest problem when I get them is how little I hear out of the swollen ear.

You might be thinking, “no big deal that’s why you have another ear.” While that might be true for many, for me my other ear has some permanent hearing loss. I have about 60% of my hearing in that ear.

When I lost my hearing it meant I couldn’t hear the wind blowing through the trees, the birds singing, nor the waves lapping at the shore not far from me. On one hand, this is disappointing as the sounds of nature are one of the things I love about being up north. 

What I remember noticing on that morning of silence is how much more I could hear with my other senses. We were in a beautiful place in Northern Ontario, and it is beautiful on many levels. Even when it’s raining, it’s hard not to be captivated by the world around you. The experience of silence became a reminder of how much I have in my life, and how fortunate I am to be able to be in places like that.

The silence is far from a bad thing as it provided me some quiet time to think and be present in other ways. Based on my journal entry that morning, I thought about so many things that morning. So the silence was a gift. It was a gift to be able to quiet the world around me for a brief period and just listen to what I found in my heart. It’s something I often miss doing as I rush through my busy life.  

My ear healed a couple of weeks later, and I enjoy the ability to hear our world again. However, I’m returning to my daily practice of finding at least 10 minutes to be alone and in silence. There’s too much at stake not to!

Thought for the week

Too often silence is an uncomfortable place for people to be. There are likely as many reasons for the discomfort with silence as there are people on earth. I get it, as I used to believe I had to fill the silence. 

For the next week, I’d challenge you to find at least 10 minutes each day to be in silence. You might meditate, or just find a quiet corner of the world to sit quietly. I love nothing more than to just go for a quiet stroll in the woods, or sit on a park bench to listen to whatever shows up. 

I’d encourage you to use this time just to notice what’s going on in you. Don’t try to think about any of life’s big questions, just spend your time not trying to think about things. Just notice what all your senses are saying to you, and enjoy this time with yourself. 

If you want a little help with this, pull out your smart phone and search for meditation apps. The one I use is “Headspace”. Speaking from experience, when I find this quiet time each day it’s so much easier to be the best version of me all day. 

So bring on the silence. I’m listening.