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Layering Up The Quiet

Reveling in the silence amidst the clutter

Being the rose

At the dentist’s office, I waited for my turn in silence, without a phone or a magazine and without doing anything. The dentist’s assistant looking at my “plight” came out to tell me – “You can browse through your phone while you wait”. When I told her I am okie, she looked at me strangely and walked away. Minutes later, she came back to ask me if I needed a magazine. I told her again – I am okie. Almost immediately, she came back carrying about 5 magazines (None of the kinds that I like – the good housekeeping, cosmopoliton) etc. etc.

I respect her good intentions but not once did it occur to her that may be, I just wanted to enjoy a moment of silence or idleness. May be I like my own company and I do not need outside distractions to keep me busy.

Isn’t it the new habit of the minds?

A society so beleagured by workaholism and constant bombardment, needs a collective downtime, I guess – “Brain breaks” to layer up the quiet. 

In this world with its constant stimulation of senses, silence is often an unbearable experience, not just for you but also for others observing you. In today’s times, you are never alone, even when your physical body is by itself. You have a companion in your phones, gadgets and the constant barrage of information. Together, it all becomes a noise taking you further away from the possibiity of quiet, the possibility of being with yourself and even from the possibility of that possibility. Silence starts to become an experience more alienated than ever, thereby making it further unnatural to you. For the dentist’s assistant, my being there without any preoccupation was an alienated experience she perhaps abhored or was uncomfortable with.

When I say silence, its not just about the absence of an outdoor noise. Its shutting down all the noise within and becoming an observer to the dance of the mind. Silence is about finding the void within and sitting nestled in it. 

In another personal experience, a friend quipped about a 10-day silent retreat I was going to – “How can you not talk, its unnatural to stay silent”. As I listened to her, I could sense the mountains of noise within her. Its how most of the world is today. 

Most of us are living our lifes in an autopilot, letting our monkey mind wander either into all the information thrown to us or in the past or the present. As I watch people around me whether at work or at home or a train – we are constantly processing data from outside and inside. We never stop the CPU, we never give it downtime and the noise keeps increasing within. 

But when you learn to sit in silence and simply in constant detached observation, you learn to be in the present moment. 

When you learn to sit in silence, you can shut your eyes wherever you are. And in that moment, you get in a space where you are not stopping anything from happening and not waiting for anything to happen. You are not waiting for that big deal, you are not waiting for your next date, you are not ruminating on a lost sale, you are not feeling hurt about a failure, you are not jubilating over a grand success – you are simply living life as is, in that moment. You are simply watching the ebb and flow without any reaction, whatsoever. 

When we are in silence, we train ourselves in silence. When we are in observation, we train ourselves in observation. In all, we train ourselves in Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a process of doing and being. When we are “being”, we are being silent and we are in constant detached observation. When we are “doing”, we are in constant awareness of our breath. 

And as we get into the flow and watch the dance of the mind, we slowly become friends with ourselves. The self-hatred stops, the self analysis stops and its a beginning of a beautiful relationship with the inner world. Its the beginning of happiness. 

Its the beginning of the end of living life in autopilot. We start to get into the flow and in that moment and we meet the moment with full awareness and intention. We learn to be truly silent and layer up in the quiet. We learn true happiness.

The sorrow, the joy, the disappointment,
The pain, the discomfort, the lightedness;
The tingling, the cold, the warmth,
Lost in the dark or enveloped in kindness.
As I sit and observe, I see it all,
And sometimes in the depth of it, I am ready to fall;
But then something tells me to latch on to the breath,
My anchor to this body and to myself.
I watch this undulating wave,
And I sit there still;
Between each up and down,
With silence I am filled.

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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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