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Intermittent Silence: Reduce stress and prevent burnout

Silent listening

You are ready for your 10-minute session of intermittent silence.  You find a suitable place and close your eyes and prepare for silent listening.  It could be a corner in your house, sitting beside a river or somewhere in the mountains.  You may be on a vacation lying on a beach in a cabana, a glass of mojito or margarita by your side.  

There is something we can learn from the mountains.  Let me take you on a vacation in Iceland, we hiked couple of miles through the winding hills, a few geysers here and there on the way to reach a hot stream.  Lying down in the stream, with rocks arranged as pillows and body wanting to rest after a moderate hike was perfect place to close the eyes and look inside.  Another place I would like to take you after a daylong journey and hike is to the yellow stone national park where a stream of hot and cold water mix to create a perfect spot for experiencing the silent listening during the practice of intermittent silence.

You can find your own perfect place as long as you know about the beauty and strength of the silent listening.

You become silent and close your eyes.  This is the time to learn from the mountains.  The mountain has been there for long time.  It has been a listener; it has been a witness.  It does not analyze, and it does not judge.  A silent listening; It just goes on witnessing and listening:

The wind is blowing
The river is flowing
The trees are swaying
The mountain is listening

You become the mountain, you become the silent listener;
It’s an experience worth the exercise of silent listening. 

What else happens when you close your eyes for spending 10 minutes with yourself.  First of all, you conserve energy.  Most of our drip-drip energy loss is through our eyes.  Secondly, the visual world outside continues to function whether you close your eyes or not; what changes is your relationship with that outside world.  You are not attached anymore to that world and you don’t become detached either.  You simply become non-attached.  Your focus changes; now you enter the world of your inside.  This is the beginning of the inner exploration.  Ten minutes may not be enough to know everything about yourself, nonetheless, you do get a glimpse of the journey at hand.  

At the least, you get to understand what non-attachment could feel like.  Why is it important?  It is important because there is a lot of misunderstanding about spiritual search.  Many believe that you need to detach from materialism to start the spiritual journey.  This is definitely not true in the concept we are going to explore here.  In my view, it’s possible to reach the peak of materialism and at the same time also reach the spiritual pinnacles.  

In simple terminology, you close your eyes to pursue the spiritual journey and open your eyes to achieve the material journey.  The peace, tranquility, bliss or relaxation that you experience during the inner journey continues while you are in the material world.   You can continue practicing the intermittent silence to get deeper and deeper in the meditative world.

What else happens to you while you close your eyes?  Some of your sensory organs continue working.  You can feel touch and you can also smell the fragrance.  I can tell you how wonderful it felt when I went in that hot water river after a moderate hike in the yellow stone park.  As I closed my eyes, the body was ready to thank me for being in that place. I could feel every little flow of warm water touching the body. The body was relaxed and utterly comfortable.   Now, it was time to pay attention to my hearing.  

The Silent listening

The body had relaxed, I was not speaking, and the eyes were closed. Now I was ready to go on listening to the sounds while quietly sitting or lying there. The wind was making sounds, the water flow created its own sound and swaying of the trees created its own. Other sounds were there – all these sounds were the sounds of existence. Listened, I listened to all the sounds. 

I suggest you do the same. Go on listening silently. Go on listening. Slowly, slowly only the wind will remain, only the sounds of the surrounding will remain, you will disappear.  Because the listener becomes the witness.  Right now, before you start intermittent silence, you think and think, and then listen. The day you listen without thinking you will become the witness. 

Remember, you are silent, not absent. Just go on listening without judging or analyzing.  

When you have time, you don’t need to time yourself.   

Let the ten minutes come and go.  Someone with you may tell you when you should move. If you are alone, the nature will take care of the time.  You can surrender the time to the nature.  Just be there listening silently as if it’s never going to end.  When you finish you feel so fresh and so full of energy.  

Attentive listening

How do we apply this art of silent listening in our daily life?  We grow up learning how to speak, when we grow up, we practice how to speak better.  We read books about how to win friends and influence people.  We hardly ever practice how to listen.  Silent listening has provided that opportunity to us.

A new skill has been learnt.  When someone is speaking, there is no need for you to keep on talking. You can be silent and give the person a total listening.  I have found it very useful with my patients.  Even if it is a short visit, if my attention is total, the patient has a different feel for the whole visit and so do I as his physician. 

The practice of silent listening for 10 minutes can actually help develop attentive listening in real life.

There is another aspect of closing your eyes.   You close your eyes when you go to sleep and also when you die.  When you came into this world you were silent. You entered this world in silence; prepare to leave it in silence, too. Talking is for in-between in relating to another person.

When sitting by yourself it is good to practice intermittent silence and the art of silent listening. 

Talking is a bridge that connects us to others; silence is a bridge that connects us with our inner self.  Connecting better with our inner self also enables us to connect better with others.  

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