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The Eloquence of Silence



Mounam vidvanu bhooshanam - Silence is an ornament for a highly learned person.

Mounam sarvathra sadhana - Silence can be practiced everywhere.

Mounam sarvothama guna - Silence is the highest virtue.


I was first fascinated by the idea of Mauna Vrata when I read M.K. Gandhi's My Experiments with Truth. He observed silence every Thursday it said, and he would converse with his colleagues in writing. I realized that it took great guts for a leader of his eminence to take a break every week from speaking. He mentions a meeting with Paramahansa Yogananda on one such day.


Years later I read Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, where the same meeting is mentioned. This time I wanted to try it out myself. Starting with 2 hours a day in the afternoon, I soon found an ease and comfort in not speaking. I decided to go silent every Monday.


People who regularly interacted with me found it amusing. Family was hilariously encouraging and called it Mute Mode. During my Monday Mute Mode, I noticed the unnecessary chatter in my mind as well as the many unwanted comments I made. I became aware of underlying emotional layers which until then went unnoticed by my reactions and responses. I watched with interest how much I was thinking about others, and for them. I was delighted that my helpers were doing everything without any reminders.


One Monday, school remained closed and so my boys, then 12 and 8 years old would be at home. This was going to be my real test. Things went well till lunchtime. I could let go of many concerns that I unnecessarily carried because by the time I communicated with my writing they had found a better and easier way out! I was learning a lot about family dynamics. Then a fight started between them. I wrote what I had to say in my scribbling pad which they nonchalantly ignored. My irritation was mounting and was reaching breaking point. I took an A4 size paper and wrote in large fonts with marker pen.


My older one immediately quietened. Younger one said, "Anna (Bro), look at the size of the letters. Amma must be really angry." With that we all burst out laughing. My silence was broken with that laughter. I was glad it wasn't anger that ended my silent period. I was even fascinated at the power of dissipating anger with humour.


Here I want to elaborate on the silence in various aspects of our life.

Silencing the speech


Through Mouna Vrata I found the courage to be silent and eventually owned the power of my words and the power of my voice. When you own your silent space, you become deeply aware of the emotions that drive you in your daily routines and interactions. There is an emotional resonance that urges you to partake in or withdraw from an activity or conversation. These emotions can be broadly classified into what feels good and what doesn't feel good.


Emotions that feel good allow the vital life force energy to flow to you. As within, so without. Our words reflect the underlying emotions and reflect in the way we converse with people. We radiate something good, positive and valuable. It's uplifting to those who are around.


In my Mute Mode experience, you may notice that my younger son was unaffected by my anger, whereas my older son who could read and comprehend quickly was affected by what he read. Had I spoken those words, the loudness and intensity of my voice could have affected my second child too, enough to stop the eager life energy flowing through him. Such is the power of our words and voice.


In the deliberate moments that we silence our speech, the underlying emotions come to the forefront. Every negative emotion has a belief attached to it. It is our right to change a thought to one that is hopeful, progressive and calming. What if the underlying emotion is love? Speak up and speak out! That's what the world wants to hear and experience.


Silencing the routine


After a few years I attempted to silence my routine. Holidays and vacations do help to break the monotony of a routine and help come back refreshed. Silencing your daily routine is a very powerful Shamanic process to awaken the unconscious movements of life and bring a purpose and significance to everything we do.


Choose a comfortable day and break your routine completely. You can also choose a shorter window of time. Whatever is in your plan for the day, let them go and go somewhere or do something entirely different. If you are courageous enough to do it, then you are in for a deep awakening of unconscious parts of you and others.


Your life is intertwined with many people, things and activities, some of which are not your choice. Perhaps you are expending your energy on what others want. Are you living by your integrity or other's?


People, especially capable adults, may be dependent on you for even their basic needs. Have you taken their power to nourish and care for them, which they ought to do for themselves in their own way, at their own convenience?


This mollycoddling may come across as a cute way of expressing love. In reality we are doing a great disservice to them by holding the power to their self-care and awareness. Most people in such an arrangement don't know their own needs but know what others should do.


Ask yourself if you want to continue holding their hands when they are capable of caring for their basic needs? Would you lose your importance? Are you afraid of your aloneness or unimportance? Let the process be gentle and joyful.


You may also feel fearful, guilty and anxious about what others will think about you for not attending to your "duties". You may also feel you are wasting your time. You may even put yourself down for choosing such an activity. These are precisely the emotional barriers that we need to heal.


We are creatures of habit and our body memory settles into repetitive activities. When we put ourselves in an unfamiliar and unexpected environment, our body and mind becomes aware of our true needs and wants. These can be emotional, physical, health wise, financial or professional.


As you relax into your inner silence, you begin detaching from dependencies and attachments to people, things, activities, emotional attachments. You and those around you begin to operate from your place of loving power rather than from a place of victim mentality. There is a greater purpose and joy in interactions beneath your anxieties, guilt, anger and embarrassment.


Silencing the surroundings


It is not quite possible to silence our surroundings straight away yet tuning into the white noise brings an illusion of quietness. Practicing mindfulness while do things like walking can also make us aware of the underlying silence in our surroundings. Extremely quiet natural surroundings can make the vibrations within our body be more pronounced that we may experience a deafening silence. We become oblivious to movements outside of us, as if we are engrossed in the myriad systems at work inside us.


This level of inner awareness is necessary to familiarize with the workings of our body, the temple of our soul. If a tree falls in a forest, someone must be there to perceive it. To be able to interpret our inner and outer experiences we must be fully present with awareness. As our inner silence becomes pronounced and enjoyable, the surroundings also begin to reflect this peace and calm.


Silencing the mind


People have been practicing the art of Meditation for eons to quiet their minds and to find a greater presence within. Apart from the calmness and stillness within, we are also able to enjoy the silence between our thoughts.


The ability to receive creative energy as thoughts, answers, ideas, information, healing and art is one of the superlative powers bestowed on humans. We are yet to tap into the full power of our thoughts and emotions. Being with your breath is a surefire way to tap into your creative power.


Quieting your mind opens your mind space and unravels layers and layers of thoughts and emotions, sometimes compressed and other times entangled. As you peel your way deeper, you will see the people, circumstances, beliefs and emotions that are intertwined with your life, for good or worse.


Picking the right and the best pieces, releasing the imprints that aren't serving your progress, changing your beliefs for the better, isolating your emotions from people, seeing the connection between your feelings and beliefs, finding your sweet spot are some of the gifts that emerge from the stillness of your mind.


Wrapping up with benefits


Sound is a wave that needs a medium to travel through, such as air or water. In space, there is no air, so sound has nothing to travel through. If someone were to scream in space, the sound wouldn't even leave their mouths. The five elements that we are made up of enable our life energy to be translated to words, musical notes and other expressions.


The benefits of experiencing silence within and outside are many. You learn to live from your centre and hence have access to greater knowledge. Your sensitivity to your feelings heightens and you choose to be authentic with yourself and others. Your awareness of your needs and desires become pronounced so also the resources available to you. Your awareness of yourself helps draw clear boundaries and allow those that resonate with who you are.


We learn to say the right things to the right people at the right time. In silence, you find the order of chaos. Without the background silence, no words are audible, music goes unheard. In the silence of our mind, we begin to speak what we want to hear, and eventually hear what we truly want to hear.



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