Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Sound of Silence

Does silence have a sound? Or is this an oxymoron? If a tree falls in the forest but there was no one to hear it, did it make a sound?

I believe if you go deep into silence there is always some sound. The sound may be subtle but it is there. Without a still mind, the sound would be unnoticed. There is always a heart beating. There is always the sound of the breath. If a tree falls, there is always some living creature to hear that sound. A forest is alive with life. Most of it is not readily visible. But it is definitely there and actively living. It is the stillness of apparent silence that allows us to hear the micro sounds that surround us in the richness of life.

Simon and Garfunkel wrote a powerful song called the "Sounds of Silence". Their message was that we can talk without listening, we can look without seeing, we can do things without sharing. So we need to be aware of the silence that we do not notice; the alienation that can come from being too busy, too inward. Life is meant to be shared. We need interaction that is reciprocal. We are not meant to live in a self-absorbed state of being. The sound of traffic, the ceaseless conversations, the humming of our computers, the voices on the radio and TV are always there to distract us from inner stillness.

We need the sound of silence to go deeper, to hear the intimate sounds of life. But that is a silence with awareness. That silence helps our world to expand. It helps us to appreciate the things in life that do not immediately grab our attention.

Just as a droplet of rain forming and growing on the underside of a branch contains a reflection of the world around it, the sound of silence is where our inner and outer worlds can meet. We have to pause to see the beauty in a drop of rain, we have to pause to hear the richness of silence. This is the place where we can make discoveries.

In our yoga practice we go inward. We go to the place of silence with awareness. We slow down so we can focus inward. But that inward movement pulses with an outward expansion. The strength of our foundation is balanced with an outer radiance. The inhalation is balanced by the exhalation. We have a choice of where to focus. And the focus is meant to shift and change, to align with the changes in life.

In meditation the mind is never silent, but we do not judge or hold onto our thoughts. We focus on the breath to help the stillness of the mind. The stillness becomes a mirror of our inner contentment. The mind and body are deeply connected. When the mind is relaxed, the body feels open with a quiet energy. This energy can be easily renewed. It does not become exhausted. We feel the sound of silence supporting us with a gentleness that is life affirming. This rejuvenation helps us to reach out to others and engage in life with an outpouring of love and acceptance.

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