Have you ever hungered for a rest from all the intensity, action and noise of modern life? One way to get away from it all, and not even leave home, is to take to a period of silence. During this time, the television and radio go off, the phone is left alone, and we immerse our mind in soothing silence. No talking, no entertainment, simply turning our awareness to an inner focus. This focus can be as simple as listening to the sound of our breath, or perhaps mentally repeating a prayer, psalm, or mantra. We set an intention to allow the mind to become peaceful during this time. When the mind wanders, we observe this, and simply bring it back to the inner focus, allowing the mind to calm.
Such a silence break can be for a week, a day, half-a-day. If you've never done a silence break, start small: just take a couple of hours in the morning. More experienced silence practitioners may take longer.
If your schedule doesn't allow for a period of complete silence, you can practice "living silence," in which talk is engaged in only as truly necessary. The rest of the time the mind is kept on the inner focus.
This coming Thursday offers an opportunity to practice silence along with others around the world. It is a sort of holiday, a day of silence, observed by many in India. You're welcome to join, for the whole or part of the day. Here's an announcement of this day of silence written by Swami Veda Bharati. Enjoy.
There is an annual silence day in the traditions of India. It is called Mauni Amavasya. Mauni means 'of or for silence', and amavasya means 'no-moon day.'
It occurs on the no-moon day of the Maagha month in the Hindu calendar when sun and moon are both supposed to enter the sign of Capricorn (makara rashi).
It is held in the tradition as the day when Manu, the Archetypal Man first appeared on earth; he wedded Shata-roopa (She of a Hundred Beautiful Forms) and generated humankind.
This year it falls on 30th January by the western calendar.
Last year it was also part of the grand kumbh mela and thirty million people are expected to take the holy immersion on that day at the sangam (meeting place of three holy rivers) in Allahabad.
Whether you accept the story or Manu or not, we do need to institute a day of silence every year.
On the other hand, if you prefer to be true to some western tradition you may research if there was a day sacred to Harpokrates, the Greek god of silence whose statues have been found as far away as the Gandhara country (present day Afghanistan). Harpokrates was derived from the Egyptian god Harpa-khruti, the child Horus, representing the daily new born sun, the source of light.
Of course, there is an amplitude of Christian saints who have taught silence and there are numerous monasteries of various orders dedicated to silence.
As I have entered the five-year vow silence, I would like many of my friends to set aside at least one day to share the silence with me just as you have shared the full moon day for an hour each month for more than a decade now.
So, please note:
2014 the day of mauni amavasya is on 30th January.
2015 the day will be on 20th January.
If you plan from now, you can arrange your worldly affairs in such a way that they do not interfere with your one-day vow of silence.
On that day, no driving (except for emergencies), no TV, no conversation, just self-observation, contemplation, japa and learning (1) to give love in silence while (2) learning to love silence.
May I ask all our swamis, initiators, spiritual advisers, teachers, centre leaders to kindly popularize this concept and take this year to prepare the people to undertake this one-day vow of silence.
Swami Veda Bharati
[Note: Mauni Amavasya Silence Retreats are planned each year to take place at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh, India.]