A lot of people do not like to meditate which is very unfortunate because meditation seems almost like an uphill task. Meditation is a very simple practice. It is just a method of becoming silent, but because we are so used to activity and chaos, meditation becomes difficult.
Silence and meditation are almost synonymous. If the idea of sitting down with closed eyes for even twenty minutes seems impossible to you, then perhaps being silent should work. I say “should” not because I’m not sure of what I’m saying. The reason I say that silence “should” work is because of the way we are brought up.
Very few children are raised to understand what silence is. All the things that we learn in school are simply ways of becoming noisier. We then go to college where again we are taught to run from here to there, get this degree, get that certificate, apply for that job and in all of this we lose a part of ourselves that is very important.
Therefore, I say, for those who do not like to meditate, silence may perhaps be the solution, because meditation and silence are not against each other. By being silent, you will automatically become meditative and vice-versa.
In today’s article I just want to discuss the various ways in which you can become silent without meditating.
Getting rid of Unessential Activities:
One of the main reasons why you find it difficult to be silent is because you continuously indulge yourself in unessential activities. If you make a list of all the things you do throughout the day, you will find that a majority of the activities that you perform are unessential to your growth.
How much time do you waste on gossip, binge watching television shows and YouTube videos, staring at your phone for hours and things similar to these? If you calculate the number of hours you waste in all of these activities, you will understand exactly why your mind is in such chaos.
Focus only on the things in life that are important. Life is too short. A human being hardly lives for about seventy or eighty years. With the kind of health problems that we face, even living up to the age of sixty is a huge achievement. In such a short period of time, there are so many things in life which you need to achieve as far as your own personal growth is concerned.
Utilise your time in performing activities that are essential to your growth and you will find that your thoughts have reduced to a significant extent. The disappearance of thoughts is the appearance of silence.
Get rid of Negative emotions to become Silent:
When I say that you need to get rid of negative emotions, I do not mean that you need to start thinking positive. Whether your thoughts are positive or negative does not matter, because ultimately the goal is to get rid thoughts.
When I say that you need to get rid of negative emotions what I mean is that you need to stop giving energy to the things in life that bring anger, jealousy, hatred, and sorrow. The reason why people cannot get rid of negative emotions is because they feel that they will somehow be able to change the situation by feeling negative emotions.
For example, when you are angry at someone, you feel that your anger will somehow change the other person. Or say that you are feeling sad about something. You think that by feeling sad, you are going to overcome the negative situation, but life does not work that way.
Once you understand that negative emotions are not going to serve you in any way, it will become easy for you to get rid of them. Right now, it is difficult. The reason is that you subconsciously think that negative emotions serve you.
Negative Emotions Feed your Ego:
Why are so many people in the world frustrated, angry and sad? Have you ever wondered? The reason is because these emotions feed your ego.
People cannot give up being sad because in being sad they receive sympathy from others. Sympathy gives the ego a major boost. You start to feel important. You feel that people care about you, but they really don’t. In fact, the people who are sympathetic towards you can never love you. You are indirectly forcing them to be nice to you. If they are not nice to you, they feel as though they are being rude to you, when really, they’re not. It is you who is being rude to them but in a very subtle and indirect way.
Similarly, anger does not help anybody, but why do people get angry? People get angry because anger makes them feel strong. They use anger as a means to dominate another person. What they do not realise is that their anger is something that destroys them and not the other person as much.
Once you have understood that negative emotions do not serve you, you will immediately get rid of them. You will not even have to think twice before you give up being angry or sad. Once you give up negative emotions, you will feel as though a huge load has been taken off from your shoulders. Silence will automatically follow as a result of this light feeling.
Being aware of your physical activities:
You can even call this being mindful of your physical activities. In fact, mindfulness is the right term to describe awareness of oneself. You do not need to do anything special here. You do not need to sit in a certain posture or close your eyes to be mindful. All you need to do is become aware of your bodily movements.
In the midst of any activity simply be aware of what you’re doing. You can start off by being aware of simple activities. For example, while sitting, be aware that you are sitting. The natural inclination is to forget oneself. Have you observed how while doing anything, you immediately forget yourself.
Forgetting yourself makes you mechanical. When you become mindful of your actions, you suddenly become separate from the action. To be separate from the action is to not be identified with it. In this way you suddenly become aware of a part of yourself that is beyond the body – this is what the goal of mindfulness is.
Being Aware of Your Thoughts:
Once you become a little accustomed to being mindful of your bodily movements, you can then move on to your thoughts. It is a little difficult, although there is no harm in trying it. Whenever a thought arises in your mind be aware of it. Observe the thought. Don’t get identified by it. In this way you will notice that the thought immediately disappears. The moment you are aware of a certain thought, it immediately disappears. This can be very helpful when you’re having a continuous stream of negative thoughts.
Rather than getting identified with those thoughts simply watch them, and do not judge. When you judge your thoughts you start thinking in terms of positive and negative thoughts. Both are hindrances to silence. You simply watch your thoughts, and slowly they will disappear – this disappearance will give you a clue that you are not your thoughts either.
The understanding that no thought belongs to you brings a profound silence to your being. Suddenly you will start to feel blissful knowing that you are more than what you think you are.
This does not mean that you will stop thinking completely or lose your mind. This only means that you will no longer be identified with your thoughts like you were before.
Being Aware of Your Emotions:
I spoke earlier about how you can get rid of your negative emotions by simply understanding the futility of them. This is yet another method to get rid of negative emotions, but a little more difficult. The reason that it is difficult is because the usual impulse is to immediately react.
For example, the moment anger arises in you; your hand immediately moves to attack the other person. If you are a little civilised, you will probably attack the other person with your words. If you are even more civilised, you will probably just be quiet while on the inside the anger will be boiling. It is almost like a volcano ready to erupt any moment.
All of these ways are not going to help you in any way. Instead, simply be mindful. When you feel anger, do not react. Do not start judging. Simply observe the anger that has arisen. Notice how I mentioned that the anger has arisen in you. By this, it becomes clear that you are not the one who is angry, but anger is something separate from you.
That is why whenever you feel anger, never say, “I am angry”. Simply say, “Anger has arisen in me”. In this way you have made a clear separation between yourself and the anger. Suddenly you will realise that you are no longer angry.
The reason why you feel anger is because you think that “you are angry”. The moment you realise this, you will immediately become peaceful and silence will follow on its own accord.
In the outside world, silence simply means absence of sound or noise. In the spiritual world, silence has deeper implications. Silence is not just an absence of something, but also a presence. It is the presence of a certain peace inside of you. You cannot see it, but it still is.
This is the entire art of mysticism. A person who has learnt to organise his or her life in this way has understood mysticism. Such a person is a mystic. A mystic is a person who is silent and yet his silence is something very alive.
The silence of a mystic can be compared with the silence that exists between two lovers. When two lovers are sitting next to each other doing nothing but just sitting together, gazing into each other’s eyes, or holding hands, you will notice a certain silence. This silence is not dead. It is not an absence of noise. It is the presence of a lot of things. This silence is the presence of love, compassion and bliss.
This is the entire art of being silent. You can either become silent by meditating, or you can become silent by just performing your daily activities with awareness.