We live in a noisy world. Planes, leaf-blowers, lawn mowers, cars, electric drills, television, radio are everywhere, and they are just some of the sound-making necessities of modern life. Maybe one of the reason’s we go on vacation is to get away from all the racket.
But getting away from home doesn’t necessarily result in quiet, because the whole world has become polluted with sounds. I remember sitting on the beach in Maui hearing the buzz of jet skis in the water and of squadrons of helicopters flying tourists to see the sights. These noises diminished the enjoyment for me.
You have to choose carefully to find a truly quiet place for a vacation.
Even if you do find a quiet place, if you are like most people, when the outside gets quiet you come face-to-face with another, insidious, source of noise: The incessant chatter of your own mind.
Take a moment now and turn you attention inside. Do you hear the chatter?
We are so accustomed to the mind’s constant blabber that we often don’t hear it. In addition, we tend to identify with it as “me” and so don’t consider it noise but rather as the smooth workings of our great intelligence. But the chatter is not you and it’s not necessarily intelligent. You are far greater than the endless prattle going on in your mind, and true intelligence is often lacking in the mental-chatter. Rather, the chatter is primarily composed of worries, fantasies, memories, sounds, images -- just stuff to fill up the space of your mind!
Have you ever experienced the immense pleasantness and rest that comes from internal quiet? A silent mind is spacious, luxurious, and incredibly restful. When the mind is silent, subtle feelings of the heart, promptings of intuition, love, and creativity can be sensed.
A silent mind is a vacation with no necessity of travel.
As a practitioner of Yoga Meditation, I’ve been fortunate to be introduced to the practice of silence. At first it seemed strange because I so loved thinking and talking. Yet when I overcame my resistance, and tried silence, it was extremely pleasant, and now I take brief vacations there frequently.
Last night, en route home from a conference in another city, I sat for meditation just before the flight in the airport waiting lounge. Somehow that meditation was deep and pulled my mind into a well of silence, and it felt so good that I didn’t want to come out. So, when called to board, retaining the silence in my mind like a hidden treasure, I boarded the plane with mouth closed and mind at peace. There was no reason to talk, and being quiet helped preserve the inner-silence.
Finding my seat, I immersed my mind in the silence, and it was nourishing and refreshing. Not needing to talk, it was possible to maintain the inner silence even when driving home from the airport, and it was in my mind as I fell asleep. This morning, I awoke more rested than I have felt for a long time.
Accessing inner-silence is a skill that has grown over time for me. At first it wasn’t easy. But once having tasted the sweetness of silence, my draw to it showed me the way.
If you’re interested in reading more on silence, here are links to a couple of articles you might find entertaining and informative about an extended silence I took in India about five years ago: Returning To Essence and The Inner Television.
Perhaps you’ll want to try silence. It’s a great way to get true rest and inspiration. I highly recommend brief silence vacations for anyone. It’s a pleasure that doesn’t cost a penny.
Extended silence practice is not recommended for people with very agitated emotions. Feel free to contact me if you have questions.
You're welcome to join the final offerings of the fire ritual and be present for the start of Swami Veda Bharati's Vow of Silence via meditation. To do so, meditate at 7:30 p.m. U.S. Pacific Standard Time Saturday, March 9 to join in the final fire ceremony offerings, and at 10:30 p.m. U.S.P.S.T. to be in meditative presence for the beginning of Swami Veda's Vow of Silence.
Many people have difficulty falling asleep now and then. I certainly have. Here's a practice from the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition that has helped my sleep over the years, and may help you sleep better too.
In order to do this practice properly, some proficiency at diaphragmatic belly breathing is required. Click Here for instructions on two easy diaphragmatic breathing practices that will help you breath this way. Once you can breath diaphragmatically, you are ready to begin the sleep practice.
Instructions for the sleep practice:
Lie in bed on your back, and begin diaphragmatic belly breathing in the corpse posture (as taught in the preceeding link) for one minute. Then, continuing to breathe diaphragmatically, modify your breath so that the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation. In yoga, this is called 2:1 breathing. Use an easy to accomplish count, such as exhaling to a count of 6 and inhaling to a count of 3, or exhaling 8 and inhaling 4.
Your goal is to breathe in a relaxed way, smoothly and deeply, with exhalation twice as long as inhalation. You are not trying to completely exhale nor completely inhale. Be aware of the sensation of the flow of the breath, and take care that the breath flows continuously without jerks, stops, or shakiness. Pay special attention that there are no pauses between the exhalation and inhalation.
Breathe as follows:
8 breaths lying on your back
16 breaths lying on your right side
32 breaths lying on your left side
You may fall asleep before completing the exercise and this is fine. This practice will often result in falling asleep and sleeping more deeply and with greater relaxation.
This article is adapted from a practice set forth on page 197 of Freedom From Stress, by Dr. Phil Neurnberger, Himalayan Publishers.