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Joy of Silent watching during Intermittent Silence

Leave all words and become wordless for ten minutes. Be in silence and see what happens. Being in this no-word state is what I call intermittent silence. And intermittent silence is the door to all deeper meditations.

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Today, we will take you on a journey that relies on the power of silence and silent watching.  A practice of intermittent silence for ten minutes a day can make a huge difference in your life.

There are many relaxing, meditation techniques out there that use your mind in one way or the other. One may ask you to imagine yourself sitting beside a river or an ocean, while you are guided by a soothing voice and then brought back to where you started. Then there are various other techniques that rely, again on the mind, to create visual images to which you can talk or pray.

However, if for ten minutes you decide to be a witness only—a mere spectator, an onlooker—if you say to yourself: “I shall only watch, silently, and experience all that is going on without any effort on my part—as a man would watch the river flow by, or the clouds passing in the sky, or a group of birds flying back to their nests, or as a man would witness the market babble with its shops and buyers, or as he would see cars go by on a highway, doing absolutely nothing.” Then a strange happening takes place…a silence begins to pervade within—words begin to fade.  

Leave all words and become wordless for ten minutes.  Be in silence and see what happens. Being in this no-word state is what I call intermittent silence.  And intermittent silence is the door to all deeper meditations. You can do this exercise wherever you are, but it’s best done somewhere in the nature.

Look around you—notice how the night is silent. Observe that the trees and the wind, the stars and the moon are all one with this silence. Join them and be silent along with them. It will be difficult at first, as a kaleidoscope of words will keep spinning within and thoughts like, when will these ten minutes end? will keep coming. It will urge you to open your eyes and see what the other person is doing, or how much time is left. The shallow, paltry, turbid mind will waste these precious moments in such trivialities and refuse to be silent. But it can be silenced, if you are wakeful and alert.

So, the question is: What shall we do for these ten minutes and what needs to be done so that the mind becomes quiet? There is only one way, which is the development of the silent watching by becoming a witness. You do this over and over, practice silent watching for ten minutes a day. A person who sits for ten minutes with this witness attitude, can become silent. There is this night all around you; there may be other people all around you. A child may cry; a bird may chirp; a car may pass by on the road; the breeze might rustle the leaves of the trees—something or other will always be happening all around you. Don’t let that distract you from your goal to silent watch. 

Leave the body absolutely relaxed—so limp, as if it were lifeless. There should be no tension, no strain in any part of the body. Close the eyes, naturally, effortlessly, by lowering the eyelids gently and slowly.  All the centers in the brain associated with speech, visual input processing, thought processing, and sound processing will get a rest. Let these parts in the brain rest for ten minutes.

The lights will be switched off. The mellow light of the moon will be enough, and in its light, sit with eyes closed for ten minutes—only ten minutes—in the witness attitude. You shall do just nothing. Hear whatever falls on your ears, feel whatever is felt from outside and witness the thoughts within. Just simply watch—whatever happens within, let it happen.

The old habits may continue, and the thoughts can go on rushing. Your body is not accustomed to sitting silently—you will toss and turn, especially as you first start this practice. Nothing to be worried about. Just watch that the body is tossing and turning, that the mind is whirling, is full of thoughts—consistent, inconsistent, useless—fantasies, dreams. You remain in the center, just watching.

Just be, and watch. Being is not doing and watching is also not doing. You sit silently doing nothing, witnessing whatever is happening. Thoughts will be moving in your mind or your body may be feeling some tension somewhere, like a migraine or stiff shoulders. Just be a witness. Don’t be identified with the moving thoughts; don’t become one with any tension. Be like a lookout sitting atop a hill, watching everything else happen in the valley down below. It is a knack, not an art.

After ten minutes of this silent witnessing, you will be amazed at the equal amount of peace and quiet that is born within. If the within becomes silent and empty for even a moment, the first step is taken in a completely new world. 

If you can, practice this silence every night for ten minutes before going to bed. The accrual of ten minutes every day opens a door within, and in three months’ time, you will start to get a view into a completely new and wonderful world. You will then become acquainted with an altogether new person within.  This is likely to reflect in your relationships, in your actions and how you respond to stress. You may not see stress as stress, you might simply see it as a situation that you just have to manage. But with that attitude, you may never experience burnout.  Sooner or later, silent watching will become a joy for you.

You may be looking for an answer and know how to brainstorm and find the answer by analytical thinking.  Now you have another tool to tap into.  You can go into your silence.  When the silence is complete, the answer comes from within. This answer is not yours. It is an answer from above—an answer from your innermost being.  It may seem difficult because you have never tried before; but that which was never done, can be done now. That which cannot be performed today, can be mastered tomorrow. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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