“Silence is for bumping into yourself,” a monk tells George Prochnik, the author of “In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise,” a meditative exploration published in 2010 about the costs of noise and the benefits of pursuing quiet. How many of us are afraid of "bumping into ourselves" ?
So silence may not necessarily be peaceful, as we become uncomfortably aware of the mental chatter and stories that are downloaded and broadcasted into our inner hearing each second of the day. So many people rather avoid this discomfort and turn up their outside noise and activities, rather than listen to their inner world. This discomfort and fear of silence comes at a cost. Not only a cost on our wallet, but also on our well-being.
With more than half the world’s population living in cities, it seems almost impossible for most people to find some peace and quiet these days. Sadly, street noise, cellphones, and traffic provide a constant soundtrack to most peoples lives.
Silence can be peaceful because it reduces stimulation. And silent places tend to be slower places, inviting us to go within, yet at the same time to connect with the larger world without being overwhelmed.
Ironically, Kundalini Yoga uses a lot of sound tools in order to quiet the mind. Whether we use the vibrations of repetitive mantra, or the sound of the gong; these are very effective tools in order to find a quiet place in the mind.
The gong and chants are excellent for the parasympathetic nervous system, which is ruled by sound. Each of these tools has the power to release us from the torrents of thoughts. The intensity of the sound puts the entire nervous system under pressure to heal itself.
Another way to unwind the mental chatter and to find silence is through practicing Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga is a slow, meditative practice where you may hold poses for a minute or so for beginners to five minutes or more for more advanced practitioners. The idea is to really settle into the pose and let your connective tissues relax. Yin Yoga offers a way to deal with the quiet, with the silence and alone time.
When we're not overwhelmed by our inner thoughts and stories, then we can take in the silence of nature without feeling threatened. We can allow ourselves to slow down and become aware of the peace and quiet that's here, right here, right now:
For now, it’s still possible to find forests, seashores or mountains on Haida Gwaii where you can relax for 15 minutes or more completely free from the clatter of human existence. Let's not take this for granted.