The Silence That Connects

Antoinette Klatzky
Field of the Future Blog
6 min readMar 20, 2021

My fingers tingle. My arms are outstretched. I can feel my feet on the ground. My eyes are not focused on one particular thing — my gaze is soft on the world around me. I can feel my breath moving in and out, up and down, through all the cells of my body. 700 others are doing the same. For a brief moment, it is as if I can feel each of them — their feet connected to the earth, their breath moving in and out, their heart beats. And, yet, I’m standing alone in my living room. I invite us to ‘reconnect with the screen.’

Singing Bowl | Photo by Free To Use Sounds

Over the years that I’ve practiced this moment, I’ve heard it called many things — a moment of stillness, a moment of pause, or a moment of silence. Growing up, there were few times I would experience a moment of silence. My strongest early association was as a reflective moment at the start of an event or assembly if we were remembering someone who had died (or a tragedy of some kind). The other moments that filled themselves with silence were times of prayer (at my elementary/middle school, this was a daily occurrence) or times of anger. Other times filled with silence: when someone was angry, when I got angry and was told to be silent, or if I found myself alone. As a child, I associated silence with something grave, serious, or scary. I would find words to fill the silence in my mind — I would read for hours and hours. Even during prayer time, I would find the stories at the back of the prayer book and read them over and over.

Over my adult years, I have experienced and held some of the most profound connection of my life in the silence.

  • Yoga/Meditation: At 20 years old I started practicing yoga. I had met my father’s side of the family in India for the first time, brought my fathers’ ashes to the Ganges and then found myself lying on the ground of a biodynamic cotton farm at 5am on Christmas Day. It was cold, but I could feel the earth beneath me and my shawl, gifted by my aunt in Delhi, was covering my entire body. I was in savasana, corpse pose, after one of my first few explorations of the yoga practice with three other students and our teacher. I distinctly remember the teacher instructing us clearly, “close your mouth but let your teeth fall away from each other.” This simple, clear and delicate instruction taught me relaxation, it invited me to come home to my own body on the mat. As we completed the practice, our teacher invited us to go out and continue the day in silence if we chose to do so. I took a guava from the farm, wrapped my shawl around me and walked down the dirt road. Seeing the world in silence invited me into relationship to it in a new way. I could feel my relationship to the earth, the trees, the goat herder and the goat, the water in the stream not as a description in a book or a context for my travel but as a connected part of who I was as human.
  • Dialogue and Facilitation: Over the years, I’ve explored levels of listening and dialogue with the Presencing Institute and other bodies of work. I’ve learned to facilitate experiences (strategic planning, change management, empowerment, growth & development, global movement building etc) and what can be called ‘transformative holding spaces’ for learning and growth. As human beings, perhaps because of how we’ve been socialized, we generally learn to try and fill the silence with conversation. As a facilitator (and teacher), we train to be ‘comfortable with the silence.’ When we pose a question, we learn to let a participant or student spend time thinking/considering their response before jumping in. A transformative holding space takes that a step further by not just using the silence as a space for critical thinking and crafting a response. The silence becomes a space where the growth happens, where a realization is revealed. As a holder of transformation, we listen to the space between the words. We listen for what is wanting to emerge.
Spinning Top Moving into Stillness (Photo by Markus Spiske)
  • Moment of Stillness: During my yoga teacher training, I read a book called Moving Into Stillness by Eric Schiffman. He describes the experience of stillness beautifully. He says, “Stillness is like a perfectly centered top, spinning so fast it appears motionless. It appears this way not because it isn’t moving, but because it’s spinning at full speed.” When we are in complete alignment, all the cells spin at full speed, we vibrate at a higher state and are so much more capable than we might have imagined ourselves to be. At EILEEN FISHER, a moment of stillness/pause/silence is encouraged at the start of every meeting. Many of us have received singing bowls or chimes as our 5 year gift and there is usually a singing bowl or chime in every conference room or meeting space. When I take a moment of stillness at the beginning of a meeting, I find alignment. I let go of whatever may have come before that moment (commute, the last meeting etc) and attune myself to the present reality — what I am here in this space to do/be and let myself rest in that. When the chime rings, I am clear, present and ready.
Woods in Ithaca (photo by me: Antoinette Klatzky)
  • Silence in nature: Just as I experience stillness as a higher vibration of energy and deeper connection to mySelf, I experience silence in nature as perhaps the fullest experience of sound. When I walk through the woods, my ears change. When I pause, I can hear so much — even if it is incredibly far away. I hear the chirping of the birds, the movement of the water in the stream, the animals on their way. If I listen closely enough in the Spring, I can hear the buds emerging from their winter cocoons and the soil turning to make way for new roots. In those moments, my breath aligns with the trees — as they exhale oxygen, I inhale. As I exhale, they inhale.

These moments are fleeting. They give way for the next thing — walking in the woods, the next meeting, introducing a new topic or moving into the next yoga pose (asana). Finding a moment to pause can be subtle. Taking a moment of silence doesn’t need to be 3 hours or 30 days (although those are always nice). In Women Together, we call these moments ‘Tiny Practices’. They become little treasures we can call on throughout our day, at any time. My eye doctor says the best practice for the health of my eyes is to take breaks from the screen every 20 minutes. That could mean looking off screen for 20–30 seconds, taking in nature or something at a longer range. Maybe that is where we will find the moments of pause in our digital age. I strung up a hummingbird feeder at the start of Spring and for those of you on Zoom with me, know that when it looks like my eyes are wandering, I am marveling in the beauty of the tiny speedy humming birds, their wings moving so fast, they appear, for a moment to be hovering outside the window, in stillness.

Hummingbird Photo by Jeremy Lwanga