Finding Silence Is The Key To Meditation
Years ago it was suggested to me that I take a course in transcendental meditation or TM as it is called. I chose to begin the course while on vacation with my family, as it gave me uninterrupted time without the distractions of work in which to embrace the training. For a week, I attended training sessions every morning; the afternoons were devoted to practicing my newly learned meditative practice.
By the way, my kids had a blast, making unmerciful fun of me. When I would emerge from my afternoon meditation, they would all be seated on the floor outside my room seated cross-legged in a yoga position singing Ommmm Ommmmm…..
They called me “Old FartoSwami”.
As my practice developed, almost immediately I began experiencing a peace I had never known. While I have always considered myself to be a very happy person, I also realized I was rarely at peace. Transcendental meditation offered me a taste of what it would feel like to experience that blissful feeling more regularly and for a more prolonged period of time.
The practice of TM is a mantra meditation. Mantra means that which protects the mind. A mantra is a chant; the repetition of what can be a sacred word or phrase. Chanting is found in many religions from Catholic liturgies to Native American incantations. The mantra is repeated over and over again as one cleanses the mind of the clutter that often fills it. TM is performed for 15 to 20 minutes twice daily while seated in a comfortable position with my eyes closed and my legs crossed. For me, I calm the mind by allowing the flurry of thoughts to flow through me like the wind swirling through a mountain pass. I do not pay them too much attention, concentrating instead on the space between the thoughts. This promotes purification of thought, a simplification of it, that results in a clarity of thought not otherwise achievable.
As I dive deeper and deeper into my meditative state, I feel as if I am falling over a waterfall. I am actually observing myself as I fall. The interesting sensation is that the further I plummet the more slowly I descend. As I observe my mind’s progression, I become but a passive observer of myself as I approach a state of thoughtlessness. My mind, which usually idles at a million miles-per-hour finds the respite of meditation deliciously inviting, offering tranquility much better than any pharmaceutical on the market…and cheaper too! I go to a space of stillness, a place of unfathomable peace.
I discovered that even in the midst of my hectic pace at the hospital and the associated pressures, if I felt myself becoming overwhelmed or upset, I could go into a bathroom and meditate, even if for just a moment. I felt as rejuvenated as if I had taken a 2-hour nap! I became refocused and much more efficient. Achieving true inner silence allows one to connect with a much deeper dimension of consciousness.
The change in me was noticeable and not just to myself. I began meditating in the morning before my workday would begin, and then once again before I’d leave the hospital to return home. There were a few times when I blew off the evening meditation. Upon arriving home, Tyler who was maybe ten at the time would often comment: “ya didn’t do it, did ya, Pops?” He’s a very perceptive young man who could tell a definite difference in me when I didn’t meditate.
By tuning out the often-incessant internal dialogue reverberating within myself, through meditation, I discovered serenity within the silence. The mind is mercurial and restless, often with incessant worries. As the sound comes to an end, the lessons of silence become revealed.
I strive to integrate meditation into every single aspect of my life. I can achieve that state of peaceful wakefulness while walking through the forest or watching a hummingbird flutter past me. I use meditation to place my focus on the now, abandoning the burdens of the past and ridding myself of fears regarding the future.
As Lama Surya Das once said: “Silence is the threshold to the inner sanctum, the heart’s sublime cave. Silence is the song of the heart, like love, a universal language, a natural melody open to anyone, even the tone deaf or the religiously challenged. Try going out into the woods or sitting very near the ocean’s waves. Look up at the bright stars at night; open your mind’s inner ear and listen to the song of silence.”
The Divine cannot be found in the chaos of one’s restlessness. Communing with God can only be in the milieu of silence.