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  • Writer's pictureEric Fisher

The Importance of Silence

Updated: Jan 29

We are far more than the words we say.

In 2021, I visited the lovely Jasper, AB—a fantastic destination with many areas to explore. There are many outdoors-related opportunities, such as hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing. I strapped my bicycle to a rack attached to my car’s trunk and drove to my destination. On the first full day in Jasper, I rode a moderate trail with my bicycle. I thought, hey, it should not be overly tricky since moderate means moderate. It's not exactly easy and not extremely difficult.

I hit the trail in the early morning with a ‘moderate’ amount of water, snacks, a camera, and a local map. Little did I know the path was going to be ferociously difficult. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a trail as arduous. I believe I was off my bike fifty percent of the time due to the amount of roots, rocks, hills, and tree limbs. The path felt like it would stretch on forever. Catching my breath was an ongoing task. I am not an avid biker, and I was unprepared for the situation.

Looking back, I very much enjoyed the experience. At the time, though, I felt frustrated, annoyed, and apprehensive. I did not bring enough water and had to conserve frugally. I didn’t meet many people on the trail until I reached the endpoint. Between the beginning and the end, I took many rests. On one occasion, I sat down against a tree off the trail. After taking in my surroundings, something occurred to me.

I heard nothing. Absolute silence.

It was eerie at first since silence is not something I usually experience. Even alone in my house, I hear the furnace rumbling or something outside. Kids playing. Birds chirping. Cars driving.

The silence in the woods became magical. Soothing. Tranquillity at its finest. I did not want to leave my spot, partly because I was exhausted and did not care to trudge on for the challenge ahead. Another part of me didn’t want to leave the silence. I was travelling through the woods the entire time and had stopped for breaks prior. But something struck me with that rest period. I was finally able to take in my surroundings for whatever reason. During the remainder of the trek, I could stop and take in the silence here and there.

Silence in therapy can be just as rewarding for the therapist and client. At first, silence in a therapy session seems unnatural, whether the conversation takes place virtually or in person. We are not accustomed to silence when speaking with people. Silence often feels uncomfortable, especially with people we’ve just met. We don't know how to navigate a conversation without constant dialogue. Silence in therapy offers an opportunity to take in what one feels and sensations being experienced and reflect on what has been said.

Silence, albeit uncomfortable, communicates to a client that I am present and ready to proceed when you are. I don’t have to interrupt the silence and continue the session. There is no need to push on against what seems natural. In silence, we discover healing. We find out more about ourselves. During therapy, silence says much as whispers from memories surge up, dots (patterns) are connected, themes are recognized, and feelings are processed to the fullest extent. The importance of silence cannot be overstated.

In the end, the Jasper biking experience was worth it. I enjoyed the adventure. I do hope that those in therapy can find the benefits of silence. I wish you the very best in doing so for your well-being.

Hiking out in the woods where all is silent.

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