Students often ask me how they can succeed in their meditation practice. I understand where they are coming from but it shows a simple misunderstanding of what Silence is.
Often students will say ‘I tried very hard to relax and let go but it just wasn’t happening. My mind is too restless today and I can’t settle down.’
Can you force yourself to relax and let go?
Can you push through the busy mind and make it stop or slow down?
We often approach our yoga and mindfulness practice in the same way as we approach our life – setting goals, working towards outcomes and results. We monitor the outcomes closely and track how we are progressing.
It’s great working towards clear outcomes and seeing your progress. In your yoga practice you can see and experience changes happening in your body and it feels liberating and fun. You might be able to touch your toes after practicing for some time, or strengthen your core muscles and sit in Boat pose for 10 breaths, or walk up the stairs without loosing your breath. It feels great to see the results of your work.
But when it comes to mindfulness or meditation practice and being in Silence this approach can cause you a lot of frustration and confusion.
When you practice yoga or meditation you never start where you left off the last time. You experience changes within your body and mind from moment to moment. Some are very obvious, some are much more subtle. You arrive on your mat or cushion afresh every time – it’s a new day, a new moment, and a new experience.
However, your mind can tell you otherwise. It can tell you stories of how everything is the same all the time, how you are not good enough in this moment, how this moment is not right. The chattering of the mind is constant.
And here is the beauty and power of Silence – it offers you an opportunity to get to know yourself better. The stories your mind is telling, your emotional reaction to those stories, the habitual behaviours in reaction to those stories and feelings. The Silence offers you a chance to listen with kindness to the person you are with 24/7 and to build a better relationship with yourself. Would it not make sense to know the person you are with every single moment of your life?
Silence can show you how hard you are on yourself, how tired you are from too much work, how achy you are in your body. It can show you how irregular and shallow your breath is, and how much you are in your head and so little in your body.
Silence can show you also how vulnerable you feel, and how unsupported and stressed you are. It can reveal to you the wisdom that lies within you, your own inner knowing of what is right for you and what you are avoiding or resisting.
Silence can also show you what brings you joy, the warm feelings towards your loved ones, the care and kindness you feel towards others, and love you experience from them. It can show you the moments of ease in body and mind.
Without allowing time for Silence we just run around being busy and focused on getting results, getting more stressed and frustrated, and feeling detached from life happening around us. We forget that we live in our bodies and in this moment.
So yes – plan and work towards clear outcomes, getting great results and creating an abundant life for yourself AND also allow time for Silence in your busy life – that time to slow down and come home into yourself, creating more ease in your mind and body. And then notice how much more connection with self and others you begin to experience in your daily life.