Silence. A simple yet heavy word that can be a little scary. It’s understandable, our culture is saturated with sound and stimulation.
In Yoga one of the limbs is Pratyahara or Mastery of the External Senses And that’s an inportant aim, to not be reactive and controlled by the whim of what we hear, see, taste, smell and touch. But before we can actually tune in to what’s inside we need to learn how to step away from the constant noise outside.
My day usually consists of waking up to music, followed by getting ready for day with the news blaring, working on my computer with a mindless TV show on in the background, playing music while I teach yoga classes, listening to music during my own practice, and finally finishing my day by watching a TV show or listening to the news again. It’s a constant never-ending stream of noise. I used to despise silence. When I worked out, ran errands, read books, answered emails I always had something playing. The turning point for me was during this past Christmas season. I had a particularly hectic day where every person I had contact with was just plain mean. On the drive home, I could not take the sound of people talking anymore and I turned my radio off. For the first time that day I had peace. I could take a deep breath and finally hear myself think!
Lao Tzu said that “Silence is the source of strength”, and after that quiet car ride home I felt renewed.
My routine began to change. Now after a few productive hours on the computer I will look up and realize that I haven’t turned on music. After work my car is quiet and peaceful. I still have a news addiction and Frasier does often grace my television as I get dressed, but I’m beginning to find small quiet moments.
Try it out, embrace the silence, even if (or perhaps especially if) it makes you uncomfortable. Start small and train yourself amidst the discomfort.
Take a few moments each day and turn your phone and TV off.
Close your eyes and breathe.
Go for a walk and explore your neighborhood or local park.
Rather than leaving the TV on as you fall asleep, I challenge you turn it off.
Maybe you will go to sleep quicker and sleep deeper. Maybe your creativity or productivity will increase. Perhaps, you will simply find a few small quiet moments to breathe.
And most likely over time you will come
to crave the silence and the way it offers space to truly tend to what we hear inside.