Growing in Silence ~ Part 1
My Journey into Silence:
All growth happens in silence. A seed sprouts in silence. New beginnings happen in silence. It's a silent evolution, a revolution!
Silence is not absolute. It is relative. When we talk of practicing silence, we mean stop communicating with others by restraining the power of speech and the urge to communicate. This way we create space and time for ourselves.
Silence has been glorified in all religious and spiritual practices and I was drawn to it ever since I got attracted to the path of self-enquiry in early 1990s. I did not read about silence but wanted to be silent and observe. It's Tapas and it's in the process of an amazing journey of self-discovery. I practiced silence many a times, one day, 2 days, one week, 11 days, 21 days and once 54 days. But i did'nt try silence in the last 7 or 8 years except for an odd one day silence, which we tried during our Teacher Training Courses in Goa. (I am sure, some of you remember this!) I introduced one day silence in some of the teacher training courses. Some times I did manage to practice along with the students, but it was difficult to manage the course and the team. This time the 21 day silence has been intense, deep, calming and cleansing as I combined it with Ayurvedic cleansing and digital detox.
My First Silent Retreat
First time i wanted to practice silence happened in real funny way. I think, it was in 1995 in Rishikesh. I was a celibate monk and i got a place to stay in an ashram temporarily. There was already a senior monk in that room. Initially I was happy thinking that I will get some guidance but we can understand people only when we share space and time. He was talking all sorts of things, terrible things, for being a monk. I was shocked beyond comprehension and I didn't know how to handle the situation. So I decided to observe Mouna (Silence) for the first time. I declared to that guy that I will be in mouna for one week, hoping that he will not disturb me. He said, "That's very good. You needn't talk. But you can listen". OMG! He continued to talk! This was even more difficult! I ran away from that place! Hahaha! But I completed my one week silence which was not an easy task.
This journey of silence continued ever since. I am not fanatic about any practice. I am more like a scientist and an engineer combined. I love to experiment and observe. I am not an artist. I wish I were! That's why you will never find my writing artistic. It will be more technical and straight to the point. I cannot describe things artistically. One of my professional hazards, part of early training.
Benefits of Silence:
It is challenging and very rewarding. You lose number of unnecessary things and gain a lot of useful things. You lose nothing useful and gain nothing useless. This is good, isn't it?
Some people challenged me saying that, what is the scientific evidence that silence helps. So much research has been done. Ask Google guru!
A few points to note:
1. For thousands of years, Silence has been prescribed in all parts of the world as a self-development tool and as a religious practice.
2. Emotional reactivity reduces.
3. Mental chatter reduces.
4. It stops drain of energy and thereby conserves enormous amount of mental energy. You can experience it once the practice is completed.
5. You get clarity.
6. You will be more closer to yourself.
7. You will know yourself better by watching.
8. You can think in the right direction.
9. Ability to listen to yourself and others will improve.
10. Ability to be in the present moment improves.
11. You can discover / recognize many dysfunctional mental/thinking/emotional patterns.
12. Enormous improvement in Emotional stability and thereby emotional self-sufficiency develops.
13. Develops mental balance to take right decisions.
14. Memory improves.
15. Ability to work with data and numbers improves.
16. Will power improves.
17. You can learn to face your desires, aspirations, expectations and fears.
18. Meditation will be deeper and it can take us to spiritual experiences.
19. Improves sense of well-being.
There are many more benefits than what is mentioned here.
Word of caution
What are the dangers involved in this practice/journey?
Practicing silence is challenging. Like any practice, one should develop the capacity slowly. One should start with 2 hours of silence a day. Then increase it. When there is a good mood or energy, practice half a day of silence, then one day. Journal your observations. This gradual practice is like lifting weights. You are developing your inner muscle strength. Sometimes, very deep layers of our unconsciousness mind can come to the surface and it may not be easy to face them. Deep down we are carrying memories/traumas of childhood (and past lives). We need some amount of preparation to face them. The quality of hunger, sleep and dreams will be different. That is the reason we talk of a gradual practice.
Secondly, silence goes with DIGITAL DETOX. If we don't stop on watching TV or social media or listening to music, it will not give full benefits.
Thirdly we need to keep our food simple. Best is vegetarian diet and no alcohol/drugs.
You are the best judge, when you practice.
This time, my journey:
Each time we practice something, it is fresh and new.
I would like to divide my journey this time into 3 phases.
1. Period of un-winding.
2. Period of self-rediscovery, a silent growth.
3. Period of consolidation.
I will elaborate them in our next newsletter (within 10 to 15 days)