Our lives are generally noisy and busy, with constant distractions coming from all directions. At work people are often chatting and on the phone, the tapping of keyboard keys, radios and TVs, traffic and so on. Silence is hard to come by except perhaps at night once we go to bed (if we are lucky enough to live somewhere quiet!). People often say they can't hear themselves think. Many people are so un-used to silence that they find it awkward, perhaps even uncomfortable and put background noise on to keep it at bay.
This Wednesday is an international day to celebrate silence. Just this day is trying to remind us that silence is something to be valued and to bring in to our lives more often. The Big Shhhh aims to spread stillness and to unite us.
Why? you may ask, in this age of achievement, what will it get me?
Silence can be a chance to get to know yourself, to listen to yourself, and to allow the mind to reflect without the distraction of noise and without these distractions sapping our energy. It can be a chance to let go of negative distractions and allow happiness to emerge, and to refocus and remain grounded.
But of course, silence isn't necessarily easy, and when starting out, is impossible for some people. Once you stop physically, and listen to yourself, you realise there is a lot going on that you may have either missed before, or even actively avoided if what you find isn't comfortable to you. What might remain if you stop the noise around you? Spending time in silence, once you find yourself able to physically stop, can be a revelation.
Meditation is usually taken in silence, and yoga is usually taken with only the sound of your breathing, movements if practicing asana (postures), and perhaps the sound of the teachers voice if in a group yoga class.
These days some yoga classes even include background music, or uplifting music, to keep the body moving and the mind focused on the practice.
It takes discipline and effort to remain silent, and to remain still. Very difficult for some and something that only regular practice and supportive guidance will help. Silence crosses disciplines and is found at the core of yoga and meditation and also in church and prayer.
Once you are able to find silence, what will you find there? An open question, and only one way to find out...
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Founder of YogaSpace, 2009
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