The Pillars of Virtue


4i 4indigo-signature-bannerSilence

This is the fifth post in a series of six about how the monastic life can help us to understand the life we live and this thing we do.

I am going to be a little, tiny bit kinky on this one.

I think it best to say that first so we have no big surprises.

4i 3“Silence is an aid and not an end in itself. It aids prayer, communal and private, and seeks to reduce distractions. Silence aids deeper meditation and contemplation.” A Trappist Monk on the value of silence

I have spent some time in a monastery  (this is not going to be the kinky bit) and my most treasured memory of my time there was the silence. Silence was from after compline (last prayers at eight pm) until lunch the following day.  I had thought this would be a challenge and I would find myself terribly oppressed.  I surely would find myself getting histrionic in a field somewhere after about two days.

This did not happen. Instead I found peace.

I am a talker. There is no event that cannot be improved by the discussion of it before and the verbal (some may say verbose) dissection of it afterwards. What is night time for except to be filled with words about the day, just as the sky is filled with stars? What is companionship for if not for a scatter cushion comfort of chatting? You never have to ask me if I want to talk it over except if I am very upset when I go all quiet and then, to solve the problem we should discuss it for hours.

If I am alone, no worries. I talk to myself in the car going through conversations I have had, should have, might have, or would like to have. I talk to myself as I cook, as I write and as I potter about. I live in the confessional.

My brain is like that. It is full up and busy like an intersection at rush hour. Words, thoughts, doubts, ideas, concerns, possibilities, questions, hopes, memories, imaginings, fears all spill out of me like puppies at play.

But my brain was not so in the monastery.

“Silence reminds me that the misuse of words, the abuse of language can also be the sinful abuse of people; silence for us means not talking, more than not making noise… On yet another level, silence means listening”

4i 1A Trappist Monk on Silence

In the monastery it was very nicely (but sternly) explained to me and my group that we must not only respect the silence but protect the silence. We would show how we felt about the community in this simple act. Silence was a gift we could all give and share, it was the sacred duty that they insisted we fulfil.

Thus enforced, the silence calmed me. I had to let go of some words, allow them to be butterflies ad lightly escape rather than tether them to my tongue. My little voice grew still. In the silence I heard … nothing. It was a tremendous relief.

I returned to the rest of my life (and the noise and bustle of London) because apparently mortgage, job and other such mundane flim flan.  (DJ could have come to stay with me in the monastery- I am sure he would have loved it*.) And once there I remembered forever what I learned about the joy of silence and became a paragon of virtue.

The End

Ahem.  I said ‘The End’ because I am perfect now.

You can go now and try to be as perfect as me. I am smiling soothingly at you because I am so peaceful and perfect.

Really, I am.

Oh, alright then.

When DJ has an idea we discuss it. When I have an idea we discuss it for longer.

I run a commentary on his disciplinary techniques.

I tell him how I think we should do things or how we shouldn’t do things. I am not totally convinced he always find this a great comfort. We talk about whether or not he finds me talking about things a great comfort.

Sometimes DJ sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose as though he is very tired. I do not know why despite having talked with him about it.

What I have learned from the monks and what I try to remember each and every time I forget  is the joy and beauty of occasional silence.

Silence all the time is dangerous, stupid and pointless, besides if DJ had wanted a quiet girl he would have walked right past me. But ‘silence sometimes’ is a gift.

How to find silence is easy. Just stop for a moment. Be quiet. Turn something off and let some time pass.

Now do it again but turn your phone off. All the music should be off. Your lap top is noise too, noise in your head. I am talking to you right now, I am using your voice to do it.

We don’t have much space for silence. It is a forgotten commodity as we spend so much time and money trying to fill our sound space.  The people of the world would like you to listen to them. It won’t help you at all though.

Some silence is a solitary pursuit. It is time with no TV, no phone, and no music. A surprise in these modern times, such silence may bring calm and peace to a difficult day and remind who we are and what we knew before the world shouted at us what it wants us to believe.

But sometimes silence is a gift that DJ brings to me and to us.

It may be that he simply will not let me talk for a while; it may be that he wishes me to listen to him or to his heartbeat as he holds me. At first it is hard. I need to tell him things, to use words to help us but eventually I calm. I hear him, it may be his words or his love but I hear him. His verbal, calm, quiet assertion that I will not speak is always a relief once I can accept it. He allows me to find peace with him.

“In the silence of adoration, we can arrive at a deep communion when we share the same faith. Sometimes I think silence is one way of not letting our differences define who we are for one another.” A Trappist monk on the value of silence

Other kinds of silence are more focussed and more challenging.

I blush to tell you that silence is such a challenge that he finds methods to insist upon it. Nothing is in my mouth that would not bring silence, silence comes from within.

I am still when he places me in position and I use no words. I think, at this terribly embarrassing stage that speaking could make this event even worse. I kneel up, I kneel over. He inserts ginger or something else and then I lie down. I can’t find words; I would not know what to do with them even if they fell into my mouth. I stay still and I stay silent until he finds me.

This peace, odd as it is, brings me peace, submission and yielding that is once natural and sublime. It is the most intense silence and as spiritually valuable to me as the silence I found in more orthodox ways in the monastery. I am restrained with a delicate embarrassment, a physical internal restraint that speaks to my soul. I return to him renewed and refreshed.

I use my mouth to adore him in silence.

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  • Watch yourself speak sometimes, without judgement on yourself listen to your own words. How would you describe your speech? Does it help you? Does it help others?
  • Notice how often you listen to others just waiting for the time to tell your story, to add your words. Understand how that is not true listening.
  • When appropriate and constructive see how silence would help your relationship. It may be that sometimes you could say, “Yes” and leave it at that.
  • Create some silence just for you. See what you find there. If it feels too hard then read. Just read with no noise other than the words in your head. Make silence your friend.
  • Consider if focused or intentional silence may be introduced to your relationship. Ironically you may need to discuss this as a couple.
  • Read this article on how Trappist monks approach silence.
  • Tops, do not assume that if your Sub (horrid way to put it, but you know what I mean) talks a lot that s/he does not want to listen. Sometimes we need to hear you in order to be quiet. If you need to reprimand then make her (or him) look at you, reduce all distractions and take your time. Often this will create the connection that is missing. We value your voice- make us hear it.

*He would hate it. There is no pub or internet connection.

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4 Responses to “The Pillars of Virtue”

  1. This one really spoke to me. 🙂 i’ve read it over and over, and then i read the article on Trappist monks several times. I’ve spent time at a monastery, too. I also spend large parts of every day in silence. This post has calmed me in a way that I haven’t felt for some time. Thank you.

  2. 2 Mark

    “besides if DJ had wanted a quiet girl he would have walked right past me”

    That is an important lesson too, going both ways. When you are feeling imperfect, it helps to remember that was part of you when your partner chose you.

    When you feel your partner to be imperfect, it helps to remember that this is what you chose. It is a package deal, and it was your choice.

    I find spanking helps too, both ways, but that’s just me and those like me.

  3. 3 MrJ

    Maintaining silence is focusing – especial if it requires some real effort, i guess.

  4. I agree with everybody and like the pictures too. Well doneDJ as always.

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