I had planned to sleep in Saturday morning… the one day in a week where I feel that I can have a few extra winks, as a throwback to my ‘younger’ days when I could sleep for as long as a I wanted to, at any given place 🙂 But, getting ‘older’ has its ‘side-effects. One of those is this propensity to wake up at exactly the same (early) hour every morning, ready to begin the day. Over the summer, my days have fallen into the habit of beginning with ‘meditation’.
The word, ‘meditation’, along with ‘yoga’, is getting a lot of press these days. It is perhaps for good reason, because, as our lives get busier, and we feel the imbalance(s) caused by the dynamic energy of stress, some of us may seek therapies that can help restore balance for us. Any new practice, whether it be ‘meditation’, ‘yoga’, ‘mindfulness’ or a combination of them, requires practice before we can feel some positive changes within and without. In addition, we may have to review some of our conditioned responses, divest some of our habits, in order to allow these new(er) practices into our daily life.
One of the habits that has served me well for a long time, even before ‘meditation’ and ‘mindfulness’ were practices for me, is the practice of silence, the practice of stillness. Some say that we have to be still and silent before we can truly ‘meditate’, while say the opposite – that it is ‘meditation’ which helps us be silent, experience stillness. Either way, let us focus on silence and stillness. ‘Being quiet’ in the context of ‘not speaking’ is only a very rudimentary form of silence. True silence is a ‘systemic’ event. There are three aspects to complete or ‘systemic’ silence:
1. Silence of the body. One way of achieving this is by being physically still, in a comfortable posture, which we can hold for a reasonable amount of time. Good posture tends to put us in a dynamic tension and equilibrium, avoiding superfluous motion. My ‘posture of silence’ may be different from yours. I hope you have an opportunity to discover yours. What may be some challenges for us in discovering, exercising our physical ‘posture of silence’?
2. Silence of the mind. I surmise that ‘mental silence’ is perhaps the toughest for many to achieve, as it is for me. It often takes me a while as I sit in my physical ‘posture of silence’, to experience slivers of ‘mental silence’. The falling rain outside the window, the chirping of a bluejay, the starting up of a car, the rustle of the breeze through the leaves – all of these tend to activate the senses and send waves of thoughts on the surface of the mental lake…
If our aim is to ‘quieten’ all thought (to silence the mind), then we may have to ‘silence’ all senses. If our objective is to fill ourselves with ‘thought’, it doesn’t take as much work, for it seems to happen naturally! Perhaps we can reframe our objective? We can choose to simply let the thoughts flow, become observers, and practice a kind of ‘mindfulness’. Or we can fill ourselves with a single, dynamic, energizing thought, which eliminates all the spurious, energy consuming thoughts that bombard our mind. What might be this single, dynamic thought?
3. Silence of the heart. Heart silence can be loosely interpreted as emotional silence. Anger, confusion, frustration and such often send negative emotions which disturb the silence of the heart. A high degree of positive emotions created by excessive praise, victory celebrations and such, can create emotions which disrupt the silence of the heart. Disruption caused by ‘positive’ emotions may be preferable to ‘negative’ emotions, but both require work to restore our heart to a state of equanimity.
Silence and stillness of the body, mind and heart – when experienced simultaneously, these three can make us feel whole again – a sense of spiritual wellness. Yes, our silence and stillness can be misinterpreted by those who do not realize or understand their value and beauty. We need to be patient, and stay with our practice, and with time, space and grace, the light that suffuses from within us will be enough to disseminate the value of silence to those that connect with us…
In writing the words above, I was fortunate to find some of my notes on silence, from the book “Silence as Yoga”. In it, Phillips Brooks is quoted about the ‘creative power of silence’ as saying:
Even in our silence, our apparent inactivity, it is good to know that we can be something for others; to know (and this we may know surely) that no man or woman of the humblest sort can really be strong, gentle, pure and good, without the world being better for it, without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness.
It is the lives, like the stars, which simply pour down on us, the calm light of their bright and faithful being, up to which we look, and out of which we gather the deepest calm and courage. – Phillips Brooks
Namaste, be well, and enjoy your stillness and silence,
P.S. If you have read this far, thank you. I also invite you to join us on twitter in our weekly chat in #SpiritChat on Sunday September 14th at 9am ET / 2pm UK / 6:30pm India. If you cannot join in the live chat (or you read this after the chat time), please share some thoughts on ‘silence and stillness’ in the comments below.
Ready? Deep breath. Q1. The two words ~ "Stillness and Silence" ~ what energy do they invoke within you? #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511138525820227584 Q2. Why is silence important in our lives? How is it different from stillness? Is it? #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511139856744202241 Q3. Physical silence (of the body) - how can we achieve it and still avoid inaction? #spiritchat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511141852289183744 Q4. Some say Mental silence is tough to achieve. What are some obstacles? How do you overcome them? #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511143778087075842 Q5. Silence of the heart (of emotions) - how is it disrupted? How is it restored? #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511145458937634816 Q6. The connection between stress, stillness and silence is...? #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511146919415271424 Q7. Q7. Choose a Single dynamic thought/emotion that would give you mind/heart 'silence'. What is it? Why? #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511148146756698112 Q8. How do we explain our practice of stillness, of silence, to the 'world'? How does it benefit the 'world'? #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511149504083820545 Q9. What would you like to ask (or tell) the community about #Stillness and/or #Silence? #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511150909775433728 Q10. If there is a project you have been working on in 'silence', and would like to share, go ahead! :) #SpiritChat http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/511151989150199808
“Silence and Stillness” – the storify summary – https://storify.com/ajmanik/silence-and-stillness