Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Sound of Silence

“There are times when silence has the loudest voice” 
Leroy Brownlow

Sometimes silence is a note we can sing...

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity!  Traveling and long eventful days have made this week very busy.

I arrived home late Thursday night after a long car ride and a busy day teaching some wonderfully gifted yogis in Carrboro, NC (near Chapel Hill).  As I snuggled into bed I felt a wave of relief.  I was so thankful to be back home, but I was also appreciative to have had the opportunity to do what I love.

It wasn't until I finally put my head on the pillow and started to relax that I noticed how "loud" the past few days had been.  And by loud I don't mean "decibel loud", but perhaps just loud in the sense that the week had been abuzz with activity, energy and movement.  In the stillness of my bed the "noise" caught up with me and I could sense how tired it made me feel.

This is often the case for most of us in this day and age. The momentum of our lives carries us forward like a noisy wave.  Sometimes we can't sense how "loud" our world has become until we finally stop and attend to the part of ourselves that is already quiet and easeful. 

Still feeling a bit "noisy" when I woke up Friday morning, I stepped on my yoga mat to do my asana and meditation practice.  I began sama vritti pranayama (equal breathing).  Sama vritti is a calming and balancing breath that can be used to create a sense of being grounded, stable and at ease in the body, mind and emotions.  Blending this breath with awareness and postures brought me a profound sense of inner quiet.  I was able to tune into the sound of silence - which is by no means void of sound - but rather is rich and full of the sounds of the "self", the sounds of life.

In the course of our lives we never experience total physical silence.  From the moment we are conceived we are immersed in the whooshing sounds of our mothers heartbeat and blood flow while in the womb.  We are then born into a tumultuous world.  Even if we find ourselves in a silent room or space,  we can still hear the buzz and vibration of the blood in our ears, the sound of our breath, the beating of our heart.  

We can't know true silence until we seek it spiritually. The tradition of yoga asserts that this silence and peace are already within us. When we consciously make the choice to slow down, and to step out of the momentum and into stillness, we begin to experience the quieting of the commotion of life around us.  We shift into an organic experience of deep inner peacefulness and quietude.  It's already there, we just have to tune in to it. 

"There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub."
-Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Practice slowing down to the pace of your own breath.  Practice sama vritti pranayama to help you find your own divine silence.  It's simple!  Here's how:

1. Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position, placing a folded blanket under your sitting bones if necessary.
2. Close your eyes and begin to notice your natural breath, not changing anything at first.
3. Begin a slow count to four as you inhale. Then also count to four as you exhale. The exercise is to match the length of your inhale and exhale.
4. You may experiment with changing the number you count to, just make sure your inhale and exhale stay the same length.
5. Continue breathing this way for several minutes.

Until next time...


by Billy Collins

There is the sudden silence of the crowd 
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

by Hafiz

A day of Silence
Can be a pilgrimage in itself.

A day of Silence
Can help you listen
To the Soul play
Its marvellous lute and drum.

Is not most talking
A crazed defence of a crumbling fort?

I thought we came here
To surrender in Silence,

To yield to Light and Happiness,

To Dance within
In celebration of Love’s Victory! (Hafiz)

by Sri Chinmoy
Silence, silence, silence. 
Silence awakens the sleeping seeker in me. 
Silence enlightens the aspiring seeker in me. 
Silence fulfils the self-giving seeker in me. Silence, silence, silence.

No comments:

Post a Comment