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A Deafening Silence:
Training the Mind to Understand Silence - Page 2

There are many meditation techniques, but all of them are useless unless you are already able to sit still; not every Westerner can do that right away. A Westerner whose mind protests against silence must gradually learn what it really is and make friends with it. There are many ways to start exploring the silence. Spend a few moments in a garden, examining a pretty flower or watching ants or butterflies go about their business. Lie on your back and watch the clouds overhead or enjoy the majesty of a starry night. Instead of allowing memories or other thoughts invade the moment just enjoy the wonders nature has presented you. Detach from your thoughts. Also detach from your thoughts during the rest of the day. When you find your mind commenting on something or criticizing something you said or did, instead of believing it, ask yourself, "Who is making this commentary?" It may not be you - it may be your mother's voice from long ago, or a teacher's, or even a stranger's. You have the right to reject any thought that does not open you up to your highest truth. But first, you have to detach so you can recognize that you are separate from your thoughts. Just doing these two actions - contemplating nature and detaching from your thoughts throughout the day - will bring you closer to understanding and benefiting from the silence.

(Article continued below.)

The next step is to train your mind to focus. Some time during the day examine something, such as a flower or a leaf thoroughly. Later on, take five minutes to sit comfortably with your eyes shut (sitting is better than risking sleep by laying down). Then see if you can picture the flower or leaf in all its detail. Concentrate on that alone, and dispel any other thoughts that try to invade your mind. Another thing you can try is picturing yourself in a forest or at a beach - somewhere in nature, calm and peaceful. Visualize, look around you - what kind of plants are there? What does the water look like? What time of day is it? What's the weather like? Your job is not to analyze what you are seeing or judge it, but merely to remain in the scene and observe as much as you can. Even if you don't meditate, practicing visualization exercises like these on a regular basis will help clear your mind.

Once you learn to visualize without being distracted by thoughts, then you can try dropping the visualization altogether and just focusing on your breath. Concentrate on the breath as it goes in and out through your nostrils; passively let go of any thoughts that come up. Practice detachment. This is the beginning of silence. To deepen it, learn how to meditate. Learning how to experience the silence will bring clarity to your life and give you an inner calm, even in the midst of chaos.

Sitting in stillness teaches the mind to be passive instead of being constantly engaged in useless motion. Only when the mind is still is it open to inspiration. The most brilliant ideas, the most positive, life-changing decisions always come from pure inspiration. Inner truth is quiet. It won't scream above the din of a busy mind. The only way to reach it is by spending time in silence, listening with a finely tuned inner "ear." Even if you don't find what you're seeking right away, the silence plants the seed and the answer pops up sometime later, like a sprout emerging from the earth. Silence is funny that way; it's a nurturing foundation that rewards you unexpectedly. So welcome the silence - it will show you all of life's richness.

Back to the Beginning >> Is Silence Really Golden?

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