The true power of silence is not how it effects others. It’s how it effects OURSELVES.
I went on a 10 day meditation retreat where everyone was required to take a vow of silence. This included eye contact which is a form of meditation. Interesting.
Apparently Gandhi practiced silence one day each week for years. I’m a far cry from Gandhi but practice this for a half a day on Sundays. In theory, this is not very difficult since I like to be alone a lot anyway. But like a lot of life, things are not what they seem. It is a lot harder when you consider ALL forms of communication – text, email, phone. The people in my life know I sometimes disappear for stretches but always come back with just as much – or more – love to offer than before.
Sometimes we need to think, feel and be with no interruptions.
Yoga is system with eight branches. The physical postures that everyone envisions when they think of yoga are only one. Think about that. That’s only 12.5% of the picture. Of the branches, one is pratyahara. It means withdrawal or retreat. The goal is to make a conscious effort to draw our awareness away from the external world. If we can cultivate a detachment from our senses, we can direct our attention inwards. It allows us to take a deeper look at what’s going on inside ourselves. One of the ideas here is that our senses should be our servants, not our masters. Refocusing our attention from the outside to the inside can help us more objectively observe our mental habits and identify which ones are interfering with our inner growth. Pratyahara happens naturally when we meditate. Similarly, when we engage in a vow of silence we are in part inviting a quasi-state of meditation. Ideally we get to the point where this become second nature so we live our daily lives in this conscious zone. Powerful stuff.
We might not be Gandhi but we can all start practicing short vows of silence and see what happens.