“Please mind the gap”
We hear it every time we use the London Underground. And, of course, we know what gap is being referred to. It’s pretty specific – the gap between the train and the platform, and you don’t want to get your foot in it ever. There exists another sort of gap though, one that isn’t a ‘something’ like the gaps on the London Underground, but the very opposite of everything we know.
Have you ever noticed those gaps of silence lying between the words we speak or hear? Or the blank spaces between the words we write or read? They’re ever so brief, but they’re there, and there are literally millions of them that we’re completely unaware of. They’re like… nothing! We may be subliminally aware of their existence but they’re merely surplus to needs, a bit like ignoring negative numbers because they can’t be seen in the same way that positive numbers can be tangibly ‘seen’ through the physical objects we count or subconsciously associate with natural numbers.
But I must tell you a little secret: the gaps between words are in fact very important, often more important than those we hand out or receive.
The true essence of spoken, written and thought words has to a large extent lost its original spiritual, almost ‘magical’ content; for our lives have become far too dominated by words, or more generally by information.
We can view words, or information, as coming in three flavours…
- The spoken words we hear from friends, the TV, radio, vlogs, podcasts, etc., and of course the words we use when addressing others
- The written words we have on Facebook, Twitter, emails, browsing the web, etc., and of course the books, magazines and newspapers we read.
- And finally, the words we think. All of us to some extent use mentally formed words, or more usually, symbols capable of being described by words, to form the thoughts we have.
Most people have no idea how to find silence, silence of the inner sort, but they certainly instinctively know it’s something desirable, and recognise its worth when they experience it. In this respect, we’re probably hardwired from birth to recognise the only thing that truly opens up spirituality for us.
So many people are looking for a map of return to the quiet sanity of a life of harmony and true creativity, a return to the original way of balance in nature and balance within themselves.
In general terms, finding the gaps entails, like so many other things in life, a bit of training.
First of all, we need to sensitise ourselves to the fact that gaps of silence actually exist in our lives. And we need to know that such interludes of complete inner silence are attainable. Once we know or accept this, we begin by attempting to enter moments of inner silence.
The commonest technique is by learning to meditate, but it’s not the only technique available, and spiritual teachers from all eras have found particular techniques that don’t require sitting in the lotus position chanting mantras, but may for example require active physical activity.
The important thing is that you finally do enter the silence, no matter how you went about getting there.
So, go and find a way, and if it really proves impossible, learn how to meditate with one of the handful of proven techniques that are around, for entry to the silence of your being is guaranteed if you try long and hard enough. That then opens you up to experiencing the silent gaps between the bits of information that bombard you constantly; and what precious moments you will then have.
In the universe of verbal communication, so crucially important to us, we are literally bombarded almost constantly by a veritable deluge of words coming from all directions, all competing for our attention. The media, both printed and electronic, are a good example.
Words then, even in our computer dependent age with its spectacular visual animations, are still our primary source of communication and knowledge, and are, as with everything else, used for both good and bad. Some of those words and sentences come from the gaps, some don’t.
So, with words, all we need do is ensure that they come from the gaps of silence as often as possible if we are to use them properly and maintain harmony in our lives. Text-speak from mobile phones has becoming an exceedingly popular form of communication, but one devoid of true human contact to such an extent that for some it has resulted in detachment and deep loneliness.
We are what we think, we are what we speak, and our words reveal our inner selves.
The quality of our thoughts to translate into words and become the expression of our inner truth. Guard your thoughts therefore, they have a habit of slipping off the tongue, or keyboard, a lot faster than you think. Refine your ability to use the silence between your outpourings of words.
The silent gaps between words are as important as the wordy parts, in fact more important at times. A heightened awareness of the potential power of silence is essential for good delivery of words. A carefully sculpted and attentive use of words assists us on many levels, not only by making us more productive, but by making us understand things more rationally, as they actually are rather than as we may formerly have believed them to be.
Words delivered well, precisely, economically and only when necessary, conserves the mental effort involved in speech or writing. And through our periods of silence we increase our potential to live harmonious, useful lives. The power of silence permits us, when we must speak or write, to benefit both ourselves and many others who hear us or read our words.
Thoughts for Contemplation
From a number of sources, some contemporary, though most from old literature hoary with age, here are a few thoughts for you to contemplate:
Before choosing a word, ensure that it passes the three tests of truthfulness, necessity and kindness. If it doesn’t portray facts truthfully, if it isn’t necessary under the circumstances, and if it isn’t uttered with kindness, don’t use it!
Words are like a potent drug. Used sparingly they may heal. Used liberally they may poison the patient.
Words emerge from your whole being, not only your brain. Be guided therefore by the inner wisdom and silent murmurings of your soul.
Be genuinely aware of the good your words can bring into the lives of others; and use your words only to transmit good.
Words before realisation are empty. Words after realisation are powerful, potent and healing.
So don’t just mind the gap – find the gap!