Recently I was asked to help take 20 teenage girls on a two-hour hike to one of the Berkshire’s best mountain top views overlooking Stockbridge Bowl. The sun was warm, the sky was blue and the energy of 20 fourteen to seventeen year old delightful girls on spring break here in the Berkshires was exactly what my hectic week needed to break the monotony of all work and no play. Well, so I thought!
As we all gathered to get a head count, review the group hike rules and establish our hiking-guide roles, I envisioned this being a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Two minutes into the hike I soon remembered what my 52-year-old self had long forgotten — the day and the life of a 15-year-old-girl. Memories of those slumber parties I use to have where gossip about boys, cloths, who’s doing what to whom. was what my brother used as a justifiable excuse to escape “chickville” and stay at his buddies.
I loved their energy and excitement, but 40 minutes into this noisy hike it was apparent on how much I now designed my life around quiet. Perfectly timed, the hike leader decided to pause to check in with everyone. It was evident that these girls were having a great time, and yet I wondered how many were longing to take advantage of just being present with nature, forgoing the chatter, and wanting to deepen their Berkshire hiking experience. With a little hesitation, I recommended walking the remaining 20 minutes of the uphill climb to the summit in silence. With great surprise (and relief) most agreed it would be fun! Thank goodness because the terrain was steep, the ground was laden with rocks and emerging roots and broken branches. If one was not paying attention, conscious of each step, it could have been dangerous; an accident waiting to happen.
Panting and out of breath, we arrived at the summit and took in the awe-inspiring view. As I looked around I sensed a peace within the group with an element of gratitude for this experience. After a long pause we gathered the girls asking them how they enjoyed walking in silence. Without hesitation they began to express the intimate details of what they noticed. For some it was the shape of tress. Another described a particular bird sound they heard. One person realized that she had organically created a mantra by counting her footsteps in a series of four. Some, although sports trained and conditioned, could not believe the effort climbing that hill required and even began to notice the judgment that arose as a result.
All-in-all walking in silence paid off: we gently invited 20 young, vibrant ladies to practice mindfulness! The biggest payoff was when, in preparation for the descent back down the mountain, we took a poll asking how many would like to return in silence and, surprisingly, everyone agreed! Perhaps these young souls, for a brief moment rediscovered and reconnected with a part of themselves that they had forgotten!
In today’s world, it is not so easy to create silence. The external temptations keep us all so plugged in and stimulated that we forget how to be in silence. Many have come to convince themselves that silence is uncomfortable, yet it is in silence that we notice and observe things about ourselves, others and our environment that help us grow, expand, and feel deeply
connected; Permission to pause and do nothing but BE.
I invite you today to create small moments of silence in your life; perhaps in the car, while walking outside, doing chores, and sitting on your favorite patio chair overlooking the landscape. Then invite your children to do the same, by maybe turning off the background noise of the TV while they are playing; driving in the car and noticing the environment; and even eating their afternoon snack after a hard day at school in quiet. Then watch and observe …
I promise at first it will be uncomfortable for everyone, but if you hang in there, what may happens for them, may inspire you to live a quieter life!
Shhh Your Soul has a Message,