Mauna (Silence) is Golden: October 2019 Focus of the Month.
सत्यम् ज्ञानम् आनन्दम् ब्रह्म
Satyam Jnānam Ānandam Brahma
Truth, Knowledge, Bliss, Absolute
“It is estimated that the average person speaks 16,000 words per day. Wow! That’s a lot of talking! How many of these words are spoken with intention, sincerity and compassion? What might our sadhana look like if we took a vow of silence from time to time? For 11 years this was the daily practice of Swāmī Nirmalānanda (Sharon and David’s first guru); he didn’t speak a word. Instead, during his time as a Maunī, the “Anarchist Swāmī” channeled the energy he saved from speaking into letter writing; spreading his message of peace and non-violence to political leaders all over the world.
Mauna is a sacred practice of limiting one’s speech; of being intentionally silent, a discipline through which spiritual experiences can arise, typically characterised by the quieting of the mind, and an increased receptivity towards sound. Subsequently, like the still water of a lake that reflects things as they are, the calming effect of silence helps us to see things more clearly, and therefore, be in deeper connection with ourselves and those around us.” Sandy King.
Have you ever noticed how most people don’t listen with an intent to understand, they listen with an intent to respond? Have you ever noticed how you do that yourself?
This is a very important and very big life lesson that I have been consciously working on for a while. Instead of being quiet and listening to the person talking, concentrating on their words, we are buzzing through our own brains, constructing our response. We are centering ourselves in the conversation instead of given the person speaking the attention and respect that they deserve. In doing this we are living from our egos and not from our compassion.
Taking a step back from our own need to be heard and placing our attention and our compassion onto the person expressing themselves helps us to intentionally connect with that person and truly understand their point of view. It gives us the opportunity to learn the lessons being set out in front of us. When it comes your turn to speak, you can respond to the other person with kindness, sincerity and intelligence. Making them feel heard and understood. Isn’t this what we would all appreciate when we’re speaking?
In 2014 I spent a month at Yoga Vidya Gurukul Ashram in Nasik, India learning Yoga Therapy. One of the teachings we were required to experience was spending 3 days in silence. It was such a profound experience and taught me so much about the act of listening and truly hearing another. It also made me appreciate my own voice and how important each and every word is that we choose to speak. The deep understanding I gained when really listening to another person was eye-opening and in those three days, I solidified an amazing friendship with a fellow student. I 100% attribute our kind and compassionate friendship to those three days of truly hearing her and completely understanding her point of view.
In allowing space for silence in our lives, we allow space for reflection, intention and calmness, and when we do choose to speak, we speak from a place of kindness, compassion and wisdom. We incorporate truth, knowledge, bliss and divinity into our words, into our actions and into our reality.
I challenge you to experiment with this. With taking a step back from your own whirling, monkey mind and embodying respectful listening. I challenge you to actively choose your words with intent and kindness. And see. See what effects this action has on your life and your relationships.