The key to beauty, whether it is a beautiful room, a poem, a dance, a piece of art or music is doing nothing. Create silence, emptiness, and space. The silence is nothing and everything. Without it there is nothing.
The silence allows the thing within it, before it and after it to shine, to align and have meaning, so it does not get lost in the racket of life.
Creating silence or space is hard. It is not easy or natural for us. Our minds are constantly going with monkey chatter, all day, every day and we have a hard time turning it off.
When was the last time you tried sitting in total silence for a day? 4 hours? An hour? A minute? Does that make you uncomfortable, like the silence in a conversation that must be filled?
Does sitting silently with yourself, highlight you in the space around you and who you really are?
Fellow drummer and Professor Nükhet Kardam taught me that the period of silence between when one person speaks, finishes and another starts is related to culture. For example, in England, there is a pause between speakers. In the US, there is no pause and people just jump in before you are sure the speaker is done. In Brazil, Italy and Turkey, speakers do not wait for you to finish before they start talking.
I don’t know about you, but I find it exhausting to not be able to finish my point or thought before being interrupted. And I know I do it to others, much as I do not mean to. And how often are we really listening to others rather than just thinking about what we are going to say when it is our turn?
I have been thinking a lot about the magic of silence lately.
What motivates us to express or be silent, in our spaces, words, art, music, or dance?
Is it to convince, show power, be known, connect, or show that we matter? As much is said in the silence as in the words, if not more since our imaginations fill in the space. I think the reasons for both are varied and tell us a lot about the person.
Sometimes we experience moments of silence in the midst of lot’s of activity and movement, and other times you can hear a pin drop in a silent room.
I remember the moment in the picture below, a moment of peace and internal silence amidst the swirling movement, colors, noise, music and people at a performance at a large festival.
The Drama of Silence in Dance
As a dancer, I know that the most dramatic moments of a dance are often in the silence, where you just totally stop in a pose, and look at the audience. That moment of total vulnerability and connection between you, alone on the stage while baring your soul to them. It is the place your heart is open and they can love you or throw tomatoes, and whatever they decide to do you must accept gracefully. Yes, people actually do this for fun😊
Silence and Music
As a musician, as I read the music and play my drums, I know how important every rest, or silence is in making it possible to even have a beautiful rhythm. Otherwise, it is an endless series of meaningless notes. And it is not just the rhythm, but knowing when to add my notes to what others are playing and when to be silent, so the whole is something beautiful we have created together, rather than a piece being overwhelmed with one person’s ideas or need to express. The magic happens in combination of notes and silence.
Silence and Personal Transformation
In my personal development journey, I have silence homework as part of the Transformational Coaching Program with Jim Fortin (TCP) I am taking. I recently finished my second assignment of sitting in silence for 4 hours. I did not find the idea scary, although many of my fellow students had lots of excuses why they could not do it. I enjoyed it. The first time my mind was filled with monkey chatter until the last hour. Finally, when the silence became comfortable, meaningful thoughts were allowed in.
Where do they come from? Universal mind or energy, or from my true self? I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter. The second time, the flow started almost right away. It is well worth it.
Writing and White Space
As a blogger, I am very aware of the importance of white space. When you see a long email with no breaks, what do you do? I delete, set aside and never come back to it, or say things I can’t repeat here and read if I have to.
If you want to share a meaningful idea, let it shine with a little space around it.
Silence and Interior Design
As an Interior Designer I often see what could be a beautiful room destroyed with too much stuff. It is like the owners have taken what is going on in the inside of their heads and put it all in the room. Too much information
As a Color Strategist, Color science tells me the way we see a color is affected by the adjacent colors. To see the beauty of a color in all it’s glory, give it a little space or contrast with the absence of color- white- next to it.
The picture below is an example of too much stuff, not giving anything room to shine, or a place for the eye to rest. There is also too much color chaos going on here. I love lots of colors when they work together harmoniously and in the right proportions. This room has no silence and it seems like you could never relax here.
Creating Your Perfect Space with Silence
Creating silence in your Interior Design is one way to get that “inner peace” in your home. I started thinking more about this after one of my TCP coaches, Jill Renee Stevens, mentioned how “white space is everything” in the brain for your own personal power, or in a beautiful home.
As an example, the Edesign I created below of a Moroccan style dining area is rich with warm color, texture, pattern and excitement, typical of this global style.
How can you create silence in a design style like this?
In the same room, I toned down the colors and created physical white space on the walls, and simplified the table setting. Notice how in the design below the two sweet little bird sculptures now stand out, where they were lost in the other design.
This design feels more peaceful and relaxed. The extra “space” allows you to notice the window and lighting details more, as there are less other things to look at. The eye has the ability to rest more here.
The same concepts apply to the adjacent living area. This design was inspired by the art, and contains lots of color and pattern on the walls, floor, decor, windows and lighting. There are interesting things to look at everywhere in the design, and it feels rich, and exciting, but no particular design element stands out more than another. The rich blue next to the white sofa looks even more dramatic.
Below, to create “silence”, I used white on the walls, neutral colors on the pillows, a simple white floor, more subtle colors on the chairs. The result is that now the art (my own fractal art called the “Sea”) stands out and becomes the highlight of the room. This room has more silence and white space, feels more relaxed and it highlights the art in it’s own right, rather than as an inspiration to tie the room together as in the first design.
Below, I changed the wall color, creating a more monochromatic color scheme. Notice how the white sofa and green plant now stand out. You can still create silence or white space without having to use the color white. Space and silence has a look and a feeling.
Creating that perfect space for you may include doing nothing….and giving your design some silence.
Even if you crave more excitement and drama in your design, you can still add silence through perfectly placed art or accessories by giving them room to shine and through expert use of color.
Get the Look
Interested in what I used to create this design? Here are the actual or similar products. Some may contain affiliate links, meaning I make a small commission if you purchase at no additional cost to you for sharing.
Ready to Create Your Perfect Space?
Imagine what it would be like to live in your perfect space. I would live to help you make that dream come true.
When your space is better, you are better. When you are better, the world is better.
My philosophy of great Interior Design, which I call Aligned Design, considers three key factors; art, science and energy. The intersection of the three is where the magic happens.
Your home is like your body, a system that works together. To be healthy, you need to consider all the parts as a whole.
Start with an Aligned Design plan that considers the art, science and energy of your home together. The plan of course, incorporates silence:)
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Beautiful and important post, Mary Ann! I loved reading about your background in music and dance, and your experienced journey to appreciating silence. I couldn’t agree more with your philosophy of letting a space breathe! Bravo! xx
Thank you so much Laura!
Thanks for reminding us of the important of silence and the benefit of doing nothing.
You’re welcome. Thanks for reading!
I love your challenge to sit in silence. There is so much power and value in silence whether it is in art, design, or personal interaction.
Amazing how hard, yet easy it is to do!!
Love this concept. I’m a musician as well and the concept of rests and white space – allowing the silence to speak is truly powerful!
Silence really makes the magic happen. Thank you!
Again, your writing constantly has me pondering each paragraph rather than skimming your posts because I want to process your point of few. Love this Mary Ann. Silence is truly golden.
Thank you very much! That means a lot to me and I am so glad you take time to read my posts and are enjoying them!
Silence. What a great topic to explore. I enjoyed reading all about it.
Thanks so much, I am happy you enjoyed it!
I had lost the quiet times in my life and in March a friend gifted me a course in mindfulness meditation and I rediscovered the beauty of silence and the creative gifts it can bring. This is an important post! Thanks for sharing
That sounds like a wonderful gift! So glad you had a chance to re-discover the beauty of silence.
I truly enjoyed reading about the importance of letting the different arts “breathe” with a moment of silence! Very interesting post, well done!
Thank you so much Amy!
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