Kathy Murphy, Ph.D.

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Being Alone Together

Last week, Michael and I attended a workshop with Anne LeClaire
at The Sophia Institute.   It was a transformational experience.

Twice a Month, Every Month, for Twenty Years, Anne has practiced A Day of Silence. From Sunday night at bedtime until Tuesday morning when she wakes up, she doesn’t speak. Not a word. Listening Below the Noise is her beautiful new book about this practice and she is a wise and inspiring teacher on the topic. So inspiring that my husband and I decided to practice A Day of Silence together.

Some notes about A Day of Silence:

  1. First of all, I’m not so sure that this practice was meant to be done by a couple alone in their condo (very close accommodations). I asked Anne if her husband practiced silence with her. She said no. Nonetheless, we were so inspired that we decided to do it together the very next day.  That night we discussed our meal plans and other details, kissed each other good night, and woke up to a beautiful, amazing morning alone yet together.
  2. For me, the morning was everything that I had hoped for.  The quiet was beautiful.  And it was so sweet to be alone together.  We woke up and simply followed our own inner pathways.  We read, meditated, rested, reflected, and journaled.  We traveled at our own paces and were reminded of our natural rhythms, preferences, and desires. It was sheer bliss.
  3. Then as the day went on and the silence grew louder,  I learned was that this really was A Day of Listening. When you drop below the conversation and below the distractions, you don’t really find silence. You find a ton of revelations!  Silence can be a very busy place.
  4. I realized how much I have to say about everything and how exhausting it is. My brain clatters all the time. In my head I comment about a lot of things – especially things my husband does.  And, unfortunately, on other days, I say them out loud.
  5. When we don’t speak out loud, we come face to face with our thoughts.  I  actually was unaware  of all of my directions, judgements, and my general running commentary about everything. In the silence, I could hear my judgments, insecurities and superiorities. Now, however,  instead of dumping them out into the world (ie., onto my husband), I was forced to deal with them myself and found most of my chatter unworthy and unnecessary.
  6. Thus, there is a huge payoff for your relationship with others. When you stop telling someone else what you think, you get to leave them alone and let them be. Think of what a gift that would be. Alone, yet together, we revisited the boundaries between our own hearts and minds and, in the process, became more connected than ever.
  7. Once I was clear on what was mental chatter, noise and busy-ness, I was then able to let it go and begin to drop down into the real silence. Into the stillness. Into the place where you can hear the whisper of your own true heart.  Again, it is not necessarily a quiet place, but it is the place were we can hear the voice of our deep wisdom…the still sweet voice that knows us, loves us, and will guide us if we let it.

So, as you can see, A Day of Silence was everything but silent.   It was a paradox of deep rest and deep inner work.  And it was extremely powerful to do together with someone else.  It was a day of tremendous revelations, awarenesses, and new choices. And, interestingly, in the complete silence, we learned more about our relationship than we would have in hours of excessive talking.

In case you’re interested, we’ve decided to make a practice of being alone together, however, we’ve decided to do A Morning of Silence.  A whole day in a small condo just didn’t work for us. (As it turns out, our day ended at 10pm because I wanted to watch Oprah’s Soul Sunday series, oh well.) But as Anne LeClare teaches about the process, there are no rules.  Each of us is to explore our own way of how to be alone with ourselves.  The message is, whether with someone else, or on your own, take time to be silent so that you can hear your own life speak to you.  You may be surprised what you hear!

Powerful Questions:  Could you benefit from A Day of Silence?  What might your Silence practice look like?  


My friend, Bonnie Compton, is offering a fabulous, amazing new retreat for Moms of all ages. This retreat is your opportunity to stop, take some time, and reflect on the Mom you want to be….  Please check out her website for further information.

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3 Responses to “Being Alone Together”

Bonnie Compton says:

Thank you Kathy for your wonderful support in helping me spread the word to Moms about my retreat…where they too will have the opportunity to stop, breathe, be still and reflect on how they want to be as a parent. I love Anne LeClaire’s book and am rereading it…so much insight and beautifully written. I think there is so much we gain from silence, whether it be 5 minutes, 5 hours or a day…there are precious words of wisdom to be found beneath the noise…thanks for sharing yours.

Nancy Robison says:

Once again Kathy your inspiration has lifted me when I most needed it. How do you cue in to us so well?? Thank you for sharing this experience. Just incredible. What we all do every day and seldom stop to really listen to ourselves, let alone, the people who matter most to us.

Kathy Murphy says:

Thanks Nancy and Bonnie….it seems so clear that to start listening we have to stop talking and be willing to sit below the chatter noise for the sounds of our souls.

I had someone send me an email today that said she gets the silent treatment at home all the time but we agreed that that wasn’t quite the same thing! It is the intention to be still and to listen from the heart to all of the wisdom that the silence has to offer.

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