Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Silence is Golden AND Good for Your Health

Back in February 2016 I went to an ashram for 3 days of silence and it forever changed my life.  Just the concept of being unplugged from my electronics and instead tapped in and centered without distractions was enough for a wonderful recharge from my busy life.  But the silence was key for transformation.  

Healing is with the mind, body and spirit and in these stressful times, the mind can become our worst enemy.  It is bombarded by thousands of sensory impression, continually ruminating on what if and reiterating the mind's habitual patterns.  Medical research tells us that the epidemic of modern disease is largely the result of stress and one of the greatest sources of stress is excessive levels of noise.
(Photos are from Self-realization Fellowship Ashram in Encinitas, CA)

Notice the common sources of noise in your life: automobile traffic, electric appliances, neighbors, airplanes and if that's not enough, we invite more noise into our lives in the for of cell phones, televisions, radios and loudspeakers.  All of these leave our nervous system overworked, weakened, and dispersed.  Is it any wonder that the young are suffering from modern diseases such as attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity and are failing in school at unprecedented levels?  Is in any wonder that many people feel thy lack sufficient time and suffer from anxiety and that more than a quarter of American adults have great difficulty falling asleep.  Is it nay wonder that, in America during the past ten years, the consumption of mood altering prescription drugs has exploded and that many people choose alcohol or pot to help them unwind.  

One of the best ways to stop being absorbed in the mind's games and to manage the effects of all this sensory stress is to learn how to observe silence for extended periods.  Silence is our origin and it is our destination: before we were born and at the end of our lives.  We experience it on a daily basis, before we wake up in hte morning as as we fall alseep at night.  It is not  so strange to us.  We all cherish the moment when we put our head on the pillow at night.  Who doesn't appreciate a good night's sleep?

Most of us discharge a great deal of energy through unnecessary talking.  By the end of the week we are exhausted.  But instead of recharging by observing a day of silence we spend our weekend with more noise.  Ideally if you could spend 24 hours a week in silence you could experience the benefits of more energy, stronger nerves, greater mental focus, dissipation of anxiety, better sleep and a more purposeful life.  On a physical level you can expect to develop better health and heal faster because silence promotes the conditions necessary for recuperation and stress management.  If 24 hours doesn't fit into your schedule do a half day,  6 waking hours.  Any silence will help.  

The regular practice of silence allows us to develop patience and resist emotional movements such as anger, lust and greed.  With cultivating silence intentionally when we are angry it will be easier to hold our tongue, reflect before we speak and then only say what is helpful, calmly.  With silence we can learn to witness the mind's fantasies, not as our own but with detachment and learn to stop their repetitive cycles.  Silence is not the absence of thought but the ability to be present with your thoughts as they arise.  That power of now is how practicing silence will help you in all ways, mind, body and spirit.