On the podcast this week Ed and I were asked to talk about silence. Avoiding the desire to just sit in silence for half an hour, we looked at what it means to avoid noise.
It made me laugh because I had just come off line talking with someone who had just completed a Vipassana ten day sit. This includes being in noble silence (this is not talking and no eye contact) for ten days and 110 hours of meditation. When you first do something like this the first few days can be very difficult because most of us cannot keep our mouths shut. Even when people are alone they talk to themselves or add some form of noise in the form of media.
In the silence I hear the answers to my problems
How often do you avoid silence? How often to you fill your world and your ears with noise? Why do you need to not attend to the inner voice?
Think about the average day. Often we will wake to the noise of an alarm clock and, step straight into the busy-ness of life. Maybe that’s meeting the needs of the kids, getting them to school and there maybe animals to be fed and not forgetting our selves and our needs.
In the shower we might have music playing, then over breakfast the television or radio is telling us the news. On the way to the kids school and us to work, or where ever, is the radio/music on in car. Once we get to our destination there is then the noise of the day. And so it goes on until our head once again hits the pillow, though often that time may not be silent either because the noises of the day can often still be ringing in our head and may even intrude into our dream world as well.
I have been on many silent retreats and meditation courses. To begin with it was a shock. I found the silence difficult and needed to say things and have people say things to me, as if in someway it would prove to me that I did actually exist. It was as though I needed other people to validate my existence. In the silence, that is the rule of most programmes, I would begin to hear another sound, it was the sound of myself.
Once the noise of the outside world stops all that there is, is the inner noise. All the bits of me that I had been avoiding by filling my space with the noise of life or other people’s problems, suddenly assert itself and shout “me too”. Then the letting go begins. Often an emotional out pouring or abreaction
After a few days on a retreat I settle into the true silence, and something that I have come to know as “The Knowing Silence” would engulf me in a warm sea of energy. And in that peace of external and internal silence I would begin to hear the answers to my problems.
By the end of the programme, or course, when we are allowed to speak again, I often feel like I don’t really have anything to say. And, as I go back into the world I have the heightened awareness of the meaninglessness of most sound, most conversation, and most media. With it comes the realisation that for most of us external noise is the thing that we use to avoid facing up to and, dealing with our inner needs.
So how about today you try to find somewhere quiet, sit, close you eyes, relax, let go of the world and, just for a few minutes, listen to you. You might be surprised at what you might hear! Possibly even some answers to your problems or issues.
Take care and be happy