“I know the secret of silence,” Indian saint, Mahatma Gandhi wrote. In the silence the mind comes to rest and all of the pieces come home like bees to the hive. The senses gather themselves together and the fragments of our self return home to become whole. Silent practices or vows have long been staples in religious communities. Monasteries and convents may practice partial or total silence. But it’s also possible to make it a practice in daily life. While spending time in the Swiss Alps, often days would pass without needing to speak a word. Once a period of intentional silence lasted for nearly one month. I became so accustomed to the stillness that it became possible to hear others’ thoughts. My mind, too fell still, though in the beginning the silence seemed to exacerbate the inner chatter.
Being in silence is a good way to come to befriend one’s self. In the quiet the inner workings of the mind and emotions become clearer. Choose an hour, half a day, an entire day or even a week and stay silent. It may require some up-front explanation to family, friends and colleagues, and you may need to make a badge to let cashiers and airport attendants know what you’re up to. But like fasting from food, fasting from speech is a profound way of self-observation. In the silence we become receptive and listen more. It’s easy to recognize the difference between being in constant output and production mode and moving into a space of silent receptivity. In this quiet space miracles can and do happen. It creates wonderful opportunities for self-discovery.
Choosing to not speak is a first step to silencing the mind. It also conserves energy and brings about a totally new perspective on the world and the people we encounter. Will you give yourself the gift of a period of silence? It will be an opportunity to discover who your truly are beneath the chatter.
Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at http://www.awakeintheworld.com.