Friday, 5 November 2010

The Sound of Silence

This evening I watched the last of a television series on Silence. Its a subject that has always held a fascination for me and which I had first hand experience of when I was training to be a Counsellor.

At the end of each day of study we had a class called 'Personal Development' in which a group of students would meet with a Supervisor. There were no instructions on what was expected of us. We had no clue whether we were to talk or remain silent. The Supervisor offered no guidance and we were left to our own devices.

It was fascinating to see how threatened and uncomfortable some of us felt and how we chose to fill the silence. During the first session, after much bumbling around aimlessly, grasping at subjects to talk about, the Supervisor somewhat imperiously told us that we were talk only about what was happening in the room and not outside it. This reduced us all to silence and a lot of getting really closely accquainted with our feet and the floor.

Eventually, after some weeks of this - (during which I was getting more and more frustrated and irritated - it all seemed such a waste of time to me, after all it'd been a long day, I had two children at home waiting etc etc) we started talking about how the silence and lack of knowing what to do was affecting us. We filled the silence but with meaningful interactions about how we felt at a very deep level.

At the end of each term, we'd offer feedback to each other about how we had interacted and honestly, that was the most important learning that took place for me. I realised we were recreating our roles in our families and that mine had been to observe everything that happened in minute detail but to keep it to myself. Seeing this, and with encouragement from the other group members, I learned to find my voice.

I guess thats why I've always written - diaries, letters etc. The written word is the medium with which I feel most comfortable. Although now, at last, I can speak my mind.