Avatar Meher Baba fell silent for the last 43 years of his incarnated life, to teach us the value of silence. Each year on July 10th, many Baba followers the world over practice silence in honour of this teaching, for the whole day. Yes, the whole day.
We live in such a busy and noisy world: traffic, sirens, aircraft, machines, and that’s just on the outside! Internally, our minds are busy with approximately 50,000 thoughts per day; some researchers put that figure at 70,000. Meditation helps us to quieten the busy-ness of our internal noise, but how would it be for you to really get into being silent for one day? By that, I mean not speaking. Or listening to the radio, or being online, or listening to music, or watching TV, or picking up your smartphone – these are all distractions from pure silence.
According to research published a couple of months ago, more than 10 million of us fail to spend any time in silence each day. Are we so afraid of silence? For some, silence is the loudest noise of all. It makes sense to run from it, as in silence, our inner dialogue comes to the fore, including the commentary of our inner critic, which is unhelpful at the best of times. But our minds and our ears need respite. And if you stick with it, something else happens.
When I have practised silence, it has been excruciatingly hard to begin with. I’ve had physical reactions of pain and tightness in my body; my mind felt like it had been amplified in speed and sound. But after some time this settled down and what I found was another level of awareness. My physical senses of sight, sound and taste became heightened – it was almost as if I’d slowed down enough to really take things in around my environment. Not only that, but my creativity got a boost too. Ideas and inspirations arose, along with a renewed optimism and enthusiasm for my life, just through being quiet.
A good dose of quiet time in your busy week is like giving yourself a mental cleanse – it helps you to refresh, rest, relax and re-boot. So give yourself the gift of silence, if not once a week, or once a month, then at least once a year. Happy Silence Day.