A Pre-K to Grade 12 Independent Quaker Day School Serving the Greater Durham-Chapel Hill Area

Silence & Mindfulness

Silence: Why We Practice It

One of the foundational beliefs of Quakerism that you will find woven throughout the Carolina Friends School daily experience is the belief that we all have access to a higher presence through silent listening to our inner voice. Some call this conscience. Some call it intuition. Quakers would refer to it as the still small voice or the Inner Light.

Silence supports the emotional and spiritual health of each of us. In a world providing endless activity, noise, and distraction, tuning all of that out and tapping into what's most important in our hearts can be a welcome, even necessary, retreat. Quakers believe that when we are silent, allowing all of the outer world’s distractions to fall away, we can truly hear the wisdom that we each possess. We practice silence at Settling In and Settling Out, during Meeting for Worship, and often at the beginning of a class or meeting to help us get centered and prepare to listen to that wise inner self.

Silence supports the health of our community. Increasingly, studies are confirming that self-awareness through meditative silence creates physical and psychological benefits. It can lead to a healthy mindfulness, allowing us to calmly acknowledge and accept our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. We see the positive benefits in our classrooms every day.

At our School, we are committed to the work of building a community of trust, care, acceptance, and celebration of all kinds of difference. In order to fully open ourselves to celebrating others, we must first celebrate and know ourselves. Practicing silence allows that opportunity. Through marked times of silence purposefully built into our daily and weekly schedules, we spend time with ourselves while we sit with others. It allows us time to focus on the joy and love that surround us and appreciate the ways in which we are all connected.

A particular kind of silence became, over the years, a familiar and welcome sound to me — one that allows the mind to decipher the messages the heart quietly telegraphs to it and gives space for contemplation. Linda Belans, former staff and alumni parent