Modern life with all its distractions and features seems particularly unsuited to silence. Even if we have actual outer silence our mind is rarely silent. If we analyse our thoughts there seem to be a never ending stream of worries, anxieties, and regrets.
In meditation we try to do a very difficult thing – silence our thoughts completely. It is difficult only because we are so unused to this idea. The mind is so used to thinking that it is easy to think our existence is defined by our thoughts and this must be our only existence. To quote the famous saying of Descartes “I think therefore I am”
However meditation teaches that what we are is unencumbered by thoughts. The real “I” is our self which is beyond thought.
There is an interesting exercise to prove this. Whenever a thought arises in the mind, ask yourself where is the origination of this thought? This leads you to part of yourself which is beyond thought. Also be aware of the fact that you can choose which thought to accept and which to reject. This again shows us that what we are, is not our thoughts. There is some inner self which can decide whether to pursue thoughts or not. It is when we are able to stop thoughts entering our mind that we will start to experience real silence. This technique of meditation on the question “Who am I?” was particularly recommended by Spiritual Master Ramana Maharshi.
Silence of Meditation
The silence of meditation is not just quietness. It embodies a dynamic and vast consciousness far beyond our usual experience of everyday life. It is in this mental silence that we can access our own hidden consciousness. By silence we really mean the silence of the mind.
“Silence is not silent. Silence speaks. It speaks most eloquently.
Silence is not still. Silence leads. It leads most perfectly.”
Difficulties in achieving Silence
A difficulty we face in experiencing silence in the mind is that part of us is uncertain what will happen. It is like stepping into the unknown, this fear of the unknown keeps us from diving deep into our meditation. To experience the silence of meditation it is necessary to give up worries about the future, regrets about the past. It is also necessary to give up our own notions of what we are. We have to feel the need for giving up these negative qualities and suspending the judgement of the mind. If we can experience the silence of meditation it is liberating because unencumbered by our own thoughts we can make ourselves receptive to the inner peace of our own soul.
“Silence tells the seeker in us to love, to love himself. It tells us it is wrong to hate ourselves because of our imperfections.”
- Sri Chinmoy
Silence is experienced in the Heart.
When we meditate we can try focus our sense of awareness in the heart. When we talk about the heart in meditation we are actually referring to the spiritual heart. This is a Chakra or energy centre. We have seven of these charkas and they are explained in Hindu, Buddhist and other scriptures. If we concentrate on the spiritual heart, which is located in the centre of the chest near the physical heart, then over time we will feel a physical sensation like a rotating disc. This is a good sign. It is in the heart that it is easiest to silence the mind. The heart has a power of its own. The nature of the heart is not to judge, think or criticise. The qualities of the heart embody vastness, oneness and love. It is here that we can experience silence most effectively.
Article by Richard Pettinger
Sources:Silence at Sri Chinmoy Library