“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” Henri J.M. Nouwen
In my experience as a counselor and healer, I look at healing as a journey that is like a long-train ride with many essential stops. Those stops might include visits to the doctor, a stay in the hospital, a session with counselor, a telephone conversation with a life coach, a family intervention, and many more. But those are mere stops – the real movement, the train ride that brings one to the desired destination of recovery should be done in silence.
Those who are going through intense pain, anxiety, depression, or even physical discomfort due to chronic diseases will know this: noise and crowd exacerbate their condition. Healing happens in an ambiance of serenity. That is why hospitals, wellness centers, and healing clinics are designed to cut down noise while soft music is played to subdue any sound that disturbs the silence. Visiting hours are limited if a patient is in an intensive care for example. Those who are going through a crisis often take sabbatical courses in places that are isolated from humanity.
Silence and solitude are key components of a good healing environment. For life to renew itself, for energies to be replenished, we all need a quiet ambiance – a rest from the busy-ness of life. For what do silence and solitude bring?
For silence, it gives us a time to focus on ourselves so that our mind, heart, soul, and body are aligned. Noise disturbs our concentration, so we entertain other people, other ideas, different thoughts that may hinder the healing process to happen
As for solitude, it gives us a place that is life-giving and energizing. Solitude should be done amidst nature’s life-giving abundance. That is why some healing retreats can be found in mountains, at seashores, in woodlands, and in parks where nature provides the energy and the inspiration we need.
Healing does not happen in operating rooms, intensive care units, in counseling centers – these are important interventions that facilitate recovery, but the actual healing – when all interventions work together to renew life, happens for many people when alone and in silence.