‘Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.’
– Francis Bacon
Recently I concluded leading a 21 Day Meditation Challenge for a global team at a technology company. Over a hundred and seventy people have signed up for the program voluntarily. As I worked with this incredible group of people, they opened up and shared their struggles. One thing they talked a lot about was the constant mental chatter that they wanted to press a pause button on.
We know the power of silence. A quiet mind is sharp and focused, free of distractions and full of purpose and creativity. Research shows that our mind thinks anywhere between twelve thousand to sixty thousand or more thoughts in a day. The speed and juggle inside are constant. Our brain is a powerful sensing apparatus and is home to our thoughts, language, responses, reactions and emotions. True silence is not about the noise outside but the one inside.
Inner silence is the home of peace. It is the goal of all meditation and mindfulness practices. When the brain relaxes, we relax, recover and thrive. It is then that we build the capacity to deal with adversity with calm and poise.
I sometimes host a three-day silent retreat program, which for many is a pause button in their hectic schedules. On the first day, many are anxious whether they will manage this seclusion with themselves. Invariably at the end of three days, most of them don’t want to talk or head back into the urban insanities. Cultivating silence inside is a patient pursuit, but well worth it. Not all of us have the luxury of being in a cave and meditating. Our lives are chaotic in a hustle culture. Here are three ways to cultivate silence in our hectic lives and enjoy its power:
1. Censor the chatter – Most of the talking we do is what in turn creates the mental chatter later. Why did she say that? What does he think of me? They are so unfair….. If we can censor what we say before we say it, a lot of noise can be avoided. I love this quote from Craig Ferguson: “Ask yourself the three things you must always ask yourself before you say anything. 1) Does this need to be said 2) “Does this need to be said by me? 3) Does this need to be said by me now?”
2. Time for silence – Try and see if you can have a little appointment for silence every day. A time when you disconnect from all mental stimulations. Engage in short mindfulness practice of observing your thoughts non-judgementally as John Kabat Zinn put it. You will be amazed at the power of these micro-practices in training the mind for inner quiet.
3. Listen to be silent – Listen and silent has the same alphabets rearranged, could be more than a coincidence. Unleash the power of silence within and with out!
Silence speaks when you listen.
When the mind is calm, it creates space for realising your potential in far more powerful and creative ways that you would imagine to be possible. You build inner strength that shines through in your presence and personality outwardly.