In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves – Rumi
“Inner silence” is a well-used catch phrase relating to the core of most spiritual practices. The idea has become so commoditized that we don’t blink if we see them on a cream cheese commercial and yet, what does it mean? How do we achieve it? For many of us, it is a tall order to stop life so we can find a serene mountain to hike, or shut off the world we don’t hear a sound. And even if we manage to be in a place without external distractions are we able “be” quiet?
As a meditation teacher, I’ve discovered it’s a lot more complex then people realize, a dance within our nature to find what we define as silence. People are often discouraged in early attempts to meditate because they can’t “turn off their thoughts”. In the Western world, we are cultured to value an active mind, based on stimulus. It can be very difficult for us to achieve the form of meditation that seeks to empty the mind. This doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. This means an active style of meditation is better suited for you, a discipline that fills the mind with purposeful activity.
So if we stop fighting the way our brain works, where do we go from there? First, start by acknowledging the intrinsic value of your inner world; it’s what makes you unique, where the treasure box of you is hidden. From there, foster time in your life to be still enough to become aware of what is actually going on inside. This in itself can be a tall order to fill, especially on a consistent basis. Part of the secret is to treat this aspect of yourself like a friend you want to be closer to, all the while knowing it’s you. This silence is yours, an inherent and beautiful part of your complex human nature.
As someone who has had a devoted meditation practice for over 15 years, I can easily say I am not a dew-drop serene picture of peace at all times. I live in a dynamic state, that is both driven and contemplative, riddled with the challenges of everyday life. What I’ve learned is that I can’t shut the busy, ambitious aspect of my nature in order to achieve calm. Rather I need to respect a balance between these two energies and work to make space for both of them: Active and Receptive, or as described in eastern medicine, Yin and Yang.
Think about how calm your body feels after a rigorous workout or how still your emotions feel after a good laugh or cry. It is our ability to move between action and reflection that allows us to live consciously, through building the inner awareness to enjoy the balance.
We need to move in order to be quiet. And we need quiet in order to move with a purpose.
One thing I’ve learned about inner silence is that you have to be present in order to notice it. You have to be present in order to call it forward. So connect with yourself and consider what you need to find your peace? Will movement or creativity bring you there? Perhaps a conscious walk in the park or listening to some music. Find your balance and then reach within to connect with yourself, take some time and foster an awareness of what this peace feels like to you, so it is yours and not someone else’s idea of what it should be. In a focused state, try this meditation:
Take some deep breaths and settle into you body. Connect to what you know as the divine. With this connection, acknowledge the truth that calm is part of your inherent nature, no matter how buried. Remember moments in your life where you felt the most quiet. Feel it, see it, smell and hear it. What stands out the most? Bring those feelings into the moment and then build on them. Create a new place inside you where you can find that peace. Give it an image, sound or color-tone you can remember and find again. Connect with the divine and know this feeling is your innate right.
The more you make time for this time with the silence of you, the less you will have to chase it. Be it at a coffee shop, in a meditation or while taking your daily run, your precious friend will come upon you and integrate more into your life. Remember it’s all about balance!
~ Level 1 and Level 2 Teacher