The beauty of silence

There is constant noise in the world around us. And then there is constant noise inside us too: the mind which does not stop. If you’re like most people, you’ll notice your mind is making judgements about everything. Before you even realise it, the mind has flown to this place and that, and you’re definitely not in control of where it goes.

Sometimes the noise outside is a comfort. It distracts us from ourselves, and it stops us having to face our own thoughts. Sometimes we contribute to the noise by talking and judging, gossiping without even thinking about what we are saying. At night, everything comes back to us in our solitude and we might find it difficult to truly rest. This is the nature of the adult human mind.

Very young children don’t have the words and ideas to make constant judgements in their minds; they tend to live from moment to moment. They are more at peace with themselves, but they are prey to the outside noise too, and they become restless living in a restless world.

For our own mental health and for that of our communities, it’s important to learn both silence within and silence without. This does not mean stopping communication; it means deepening our ability to communicate so that fewer words and gestures can achieve more expression. There is time to speak and reveal, and also time to be silent and observe without judgement.

Silence is beautiful because it allows us to see things we might have missed. There are patterns in nature which we can observe in silence. Love communicated without words is one of the most powerful expressions of silence.

It’s hard to change habits. The habits of judging, gossiping, getting irritable and complaining have become second nature to a lot of us. But people can change the way their minds work, with repeated practice. Even ten minutes a day observing thoughts as they come, and then letting them go is enough to give you an idea of how your mind works. And then gradually, thoughts will pass more slowly and sitting in silent observation will become more pleasurable.

Absolute peace

Absolute peace is the opposite of… relative restlessness.

In most places today, we see visions of relative restlessness, with some creatures more restless than others. OM is the sound of absolute peace, which is what we all crave after having lived in restlessness for too long.

Absolute peace does not mean complacency or laziness, it means a quietness of mind which allows you to act more effectively in the world. If you have resposibilities like caring for others or managing a project, attempting them through an attitude of peace will bring greater rewards than attempting them through stress, pressure and restlessness.

There are many practices that help to instil absolute peace, but by far the most effective is meditation and self-hypnosis. This involves techniques for controlling thoughts and making us the masters of our own thought processes. One simple meditative technique is observation without judgement. Observe the breath, sounds, sights and watch thoughts come and go.

OM means that which is absolute (‘I am’) and SO HAM means destroying relative awareness (realising that  ‘I am that’). We have all come from the same substance that created the universe and will all change through various forms through our evolution in this cyclical universe. Understanding the interconnected oneness of all things creates an awareness of abolute peace with everything and everyone else. It allows compassion.

Meditation

Meditation is a crucial part of any yogic practice. Even the physical postures are supposed to be done in a meditative frame of mind so that one pose flows into the next. This is because yoga is as much about spiritual and mental well-being as it is about physical health and suppleness. In fact, yoga promotes the idea that every aspect of human experience affects every other aspect so mental health is very important for attaining true physical health.

The yogic term for meditation is ‘dhyana’, often translated as concentration. There are a variety of different exercises, such as:
– visualisation
– chakra concentration
– external focus on objects
– chanting

The best way to begin is with visualisation, as this is the easiest method. All you need is imagination, perhaps some music, and a comfortable, undisturbed space.

Imagine yourself sitting on a beach, a mountain or any beautiful, calming place. Observe the details around you, notice the natural beauty surrounding you. Now concentrate on one thing in this scene, like a tree or a wave. Notice its qualities. Now gradually imagine yourself becoming that thing. The separation between you and the world fades gradually. Repeat the mantra, ‘so ham’, which means ‘I am that’. Begin by doing this for 5 minutes for a week and you can gradually build up to half an hour with practice.

Visualisation can be very powerful and is a safe method to use for beginners who are not used to working directly with the chakra energy.