Silence is a truth-teller. It is the place where we project our unconscious associations and feelings. It is also where we come back in touch with our breath. I remember that I used to go to a yoga studio, and the teacher would ask us to breathe in a way where no one could hear. I loved that practice, it further created a space of silence to listen. On this week’s podcast, Esther Kalaba talks about the importance of the breath. I have been in awe of her month-long practice of sharing with the world her love for slowing down our breath.
Too often the narrative around healing takes on a binary form, this is something I discuss a lot in my work. The challenge is not to achieve some kind of nirvana where our breath is always grounded or our boundaries always protected, but to become more comfortable with the rhythm of the fragmented nature of our existence. This is where psychotherapy began and I would argue it is a major reason that religions developed in the first place, to withstand the brightness of our consciousness and our self-awareness; there is nothing like walking into an old church with its cathedral ceilings and witnessing the awesomeness of the way these structures contain space and providing holding for our existence.
What I appreciated about my conversation with Esther was how she highlighted the sensitivity of the body to the breath and the ways that we communicate a lot with how we are breathing. The phenomena of implicit communication have changed how we think about relationships. We can try and hide how we feel, or keep things inside, but ultimately it finds a way out, and so the practice of learning how to be as deliberate in our communications as possible is well worth the efforts.
This idea also revolutionized psychotherapy. Whereas early models had the therapist trying to remain a tabula rasa, a blank slate, many frameworks now argue that that is not possible, and in fact may impart a kind of forced and unnecessarily rigid dynamic which does not promote and/or mirror the fundamental nature of human relationships. Focusing on silence, breath and the spaces in between affords us an opportunity to reach new levels of intimacy with ourselves, others and our past. As Leonard Cohen so famously said, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.