The most beautiful music in your life will come from sublime silence.
It is the melody of the soul.
During my days of intense practice, I was in complete solitude and silence for 100 days. Those 100 days were the most beautiful days of my monk's life. There was only the sound of silence. In that silence, meditation happens almost effortlessly, wisdom dawns naturally, harmony arises automatically.
The practice of observing silence is called maunain Sanskrit. Silence of the speech leads to silence of the mind. Human mind is always talking. It is not possible to listen to your mind if you are talking as well. It is, furthermore, impossible to quieten your mind if you are not paying attention to what it is saying. And, in order to listen to your mind, you must be quiet.
Quietude of the speech is paramount to experience complete silence of the mind.
As part of the practice of silence, you need to start with small periods first.
The shortest being at least one straight stretch of 24 hours. If you are merely observing the silence of the speech by refraining from speaking, you are only 50 % there.
How to Do It Right
The practice involves observing complete silence. That means, not holding any type of conversation. Please see the chart below:
For instance, you undertake the practice of observing silence for two days. Any face-to-face verbal interaction, watching TV, playing video games or engaging in other interactive activities are red impact items. They signify instant failure. If you do that, it means reset the clock and begin your practice from the beginning. If you end up reading newspapers etc. during those two days, the quality of your practice comes down by five percent (see the weightage column), but you can still continue because it is a 'green' mistake.
During your period of silence, you can at the most take one book at the beginning. But ideally, you should just be in a room in your own company. If you end up sleeping for 18 out of 24 hours just because you can, or because you have nothing else to do, you need not bother with observing silence business. It is wasting your time. After all, we are not observing sleep, but silence.
Taming the Restless Mind: How Silence Helps in Meditation
The more mindful and alert you are, the better your practice. When in complete silence, you start to become aware of the talkative nature of your mind. You begin to see how your mind is restless like the baboon that cannot stay on any branch longer than a few seconds. Initially, your ability to meditate is going to retard while observing silence. You are likely to experience a certain restlessness as well.
It is only natural. With persistence and patience, a quietude begins to dawn. And that is going to get you ready for good meditation. Observing silence is comparable to preparing a fertile ground to sow the seeds of meditation. The practice of observing silence is absolutely critical for the seeker desiring to reach the ultimate state.
When you are enjoying yourself listening to your iPod, the external noise seems to subside automatically. The music in your ears makes the outside sound almost immaterial. Similarly, when you are able to channelise internal noise,
it transforms into music. And, when you start to hear your inner music, everything offered to you in the external world almost ceases to matter. A good practice of silence does not have any dialogues, conversations – written or oral, gestures, interactions or engagements. Maunais not merely restraint of speech, it is quieting your actions, speech and thoughts. Bhagavad Gitastresses this aspect of restraint and quieting all senses in the verse (6.10):
Those who seek the state of Yoga should reside in seclusion, constantly engaged in meditation with a controlled mind and body, getting rid of desires and possessions for enjoyment.
- Om Swami