Silence is a rare commodity in our lives. Our culture does not value silence, does not provide us with rituals to cultivate it, and we often finds ourselves in an “uncomfortable” silence. Why would that be? Silence in those moments is seen as a problem, a deficit to be avoided. It seems alien — what am I supposed to do with this? And the assumed pressure that something must be done with it because sitting in silence is not OK.
Mindfulness meditation practice helps us to bring silence into our lives, to value it and to nourish it. When we sit in silence, our surroundings may be from the “noise” of conversations, reading, television, status updates, and so forth. However, our internal landscape may be anything but silent. That’s fine, of course, and what we work with in practice. Each time we retrieve attention back from the noise of the future/past we experience a moment of silence — however fleeting.
Silence is a powerful mode of our being and one that waits for us to arrive, and, like the breath, is always available when we give ourselves permission to notice it. We can seek to become intimate with silence and to notice that it is not blank, but energetic. Energetic silence is what the Buddha would have considered the most accurate representation of our true nature. That is, who we are when all the stories stop. It’s nibbana (Pali) or nirvana (Sanskrit) — what we experience when the clinging and grasping stops.
To help with the cultivation of silence, familiarize yourself with these meditation practices. I have posted CD 4 of the Exquisite Mind guided meditation series in the “Learn” section of my website exquisitemind.com. These practices are called “advanced” not because they are better than the basic practices, just more challenging and probably not the first practice you’ll want to try. The “Mind Scan” looks at all objects of attention including sound, thoughts, and feelings, noticing them as they arise and change. The second practice is simply called “Emptiness” and provides approximately forty minutes of mostly silence to structure your experience of silence. Listen and download these mp3s by clicking here.