External sounds and noises and internal sounds and noises are the same kind. One has to retreat into that circle and focus one’s interests and attention there to acquire silence.
By Roberto Assagioli, undated, from the Assagioli Archives in Florence. Original Title: La Pratica del Silenzio. Translated and Edited With Notes by Jan Kuniholm
The practice of silence is difficult for everyone, so don’t be discouraged if it takes effort, time and practice, like learning a language! That’s right, the practice of silence requires long patient, firm, practice, and of course the will that little by little . . . But let’s be clear, this is not about violently suppressing the activities of emotional elements — you can’t. You get angry, you get discouraged. It is a matter of gradually subtracting an increasing proportion of attention and interest, until there comes an intermediate period in which interest and attention remain focused on a meditation theme; while all around, on the periphery, there is a zone of thoughts and emotions that continue . . . these, however, do not prevent success as long as you leave them [alone]. Like someone reading an interesting book while somebody else has the radio on or plays a record, or there are noises on the street. At first he fails and gets angry, but he gradually learns to concentrate despite the external sounds and noises.
And it’s the same thing: external sounds and noises and internal sounds and noises are the same kind. One has to retreat into that circle and focus one’s interests and attention there, and then you can leave behind the street noises, thoughts, radios, psychic sensations and even malaise; or think about what you are going to do tomorrow, etc., but without that preventing you from maintaining that proportion [of focus]. If you get to 60 percent concentration, that is already a lot. Not reacting, becoming disinterested without actively fighting these things going around — like one becoming unconcerned while a radio is on.
Maybe the unconscious listens if there is something interesting, but one can continue writing and studying. It goes so far, paradoxically, that some people study or write better when there is external noise: in fact, external noise inhibits internal noise. That is, external noise eliminates personal concerns and emotions, and since these are more boring than external noises. In this way those are neutralized, while the latter do not really matter. In this way external noise promotes studying and writing, precisely in the sense that it inhibits internal noise . . . This is — let’s call it the negative aspect, of eliminating factors that disturb silence.
The second aspect, on the other hand, is based on the fact that persistent attention is produced by interest. Therefore, it is necessary to replace personal interests and emotions with spiritual interest — with spiritual motives, with the goal to be achieved; keeping this goal and its value well in mind, that is — the incentive that keeps the flame of interest alive, which in turn produces attention. Therefore, always revive the goal to be achieved daily: the glorious goal, individually and for all humanity. For it is very easy to lose sight of it. Interest in methods and means, in techniques and ups and downs, etc., makes one lose sight of the goal; or rather, not lose sight, I would say, but mentally it pales — there is not that flame, that warmth that is needed. And then one must revive, rekindle the flame with the magnetic or attractive power of the beauty and goodness of the goal.
As for silence with others, this comes from the practice of inner silence . . . It is a matter of being so interested in inner work, in inner silence, that little by little one becomes disinterested in the personal talk and personalities of others. And especially one ceases to try to influence those personalities; this is difficult, because the inclination to help [others] is to help the personality, is to give advice, to give teaching — and all this is often counterproductive. So silence with others is to refrain from the noble mistake of giving advice, of giving perhaps premature and untimely teachings; and instead to radiate sympathy, benevolence and understanding, and to remember the immense need that everyone has to talk — to let people talk, knowing that how to listen with understanding and benevolence is already helping. When one is radiating in silence (without worrying about wanting to help in the personal sense of the word), this is perceived with gratitude.
 This essay was taken from psicoenergetic.com. —Ed.