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The secret life of silence

Whether we call it silence, or stillness of mind, it’s hard to imagine there’s a human being alive who has not craved a little of the quiet stuff at some stage in their life.

Whether we call it silence, or stillness of mind, it’s hard to imagine there’s a human being alive who has not craved a little of the quiet stuff at some stage in their life.

Against the backdrop of such a busy, complex, stimulating world, silence can often appear as something very far away, a fanciful idea somehow just out of reach. We forget that it is an inherent quality of the human mind, that each and every one of us has the potential to experience it and that all we need to do is to learn how to cultivate the right conditions in the mind, for it to become a regular visitor, a stable experience in our life. But silence has depth and there are many different levels. On the surface is the silence of the external world. This might be the serenity of the countryside, the stillness of the early hours, the mere absence of noise, or the simplicity of a clean and tidy room. Whilst it may be external and somewhat superficial, even this basic kind of silence or stillness can bring about a profound sense of peace to the mind. Tip: Be proactive. Seek out this type of silence at least once a day if you can. You deserve it. Go for a walk in nature, turn off any distractions, unplug from social media, de-clutter your home and remind yourself what it feels like to experience outer silence. Interestingly, the next level of silence is by no means assured by the presence of the first, as anyone who has lay on a quiet beach thinking about work will testify. That’s because this kind of silence has more to do with our inner world than the outer. This means that even when the environment is calm and the body motionless, the sound of the mind can still be deafening. Sure, we might sometimes experience exquisite moments of silence, but it is likely to be unpredictable, fleeting, and rarely as often as we would like. So we usually need to train the mind in some way to experience this type of silence on a regular basis. Tip: It’s best if you can find a place where you’ll be undisturbed, stilling the body, if even for just a few minutes a day, so that the mind can come to a natural place of rest. In time, the body begins to relax and the mind unwinds. There is a stability to this type of silence. But there is a third level of silence, a deeper silence, which is so personal, so profound, that it reaches far beyond the external environment, far beyond the simplicity of a quiet mind. It is a silence which is as much at ease with noise as it is with quiet, as much at ease with movement as it is with stillness. It is a silence which transcends the thinking mind and therefore transcends these simple dualistic ideas. It is not a concept, a belief or philosophy, but a direct experience. And it is an experience which each and every one of us deserves the opportunity to return to that place from which everything arises...the silence of a quiet mind.

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