Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Shhh…The Language of Silence

People cringe when they hear the word “meditation.” It sounds so spiritual, right? A picture of the Dalai Lama zooms into view and sweat begins to stream down towards the rapidly beating pulse in the hollow of the throat.

What if people heard “silence” instead? Silence is used and practiced more popularly. Parents tell their children to hush; teachers instruct their students to quiet down; movie-goers turn off their conversations and cell phones. Clearly, silence has value.

What if I said, “Silence transforms?” Would that look and sound appealing? Notice how much importance we give to external, sense perceptions—that, which we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch?

How about paying attention to that which can’t be seen by the naked eye, but chills the brain; or that which can’t be touched, but tightens the muscles; that which can’t be sniffed, but burns the lungs; that which can’t be heard, but throbs in the ears; and that which can’t be tasted, but produces a sick dread in the pit of the stomach?

It’s downright scary for people to acknowledge paralyzing thoughts and feelings, which keep them locked up in unhealthy patterns. For example, sex, alcohol, drugs, food, power, fame, money—the list is exhaustive, really. People take refuge in material pursuits, falsely believing that these pursuits will lead to Nirvana. Life becomes a contrived cat-and-mouse game as individuals mindlessly chase after the next job, the next house, the next spouse/partner. Over time, the repetition of these choreographed behaviors only reinforces addictions, compulsions and emotional dysfunction, as also despair, dissatisfaction and emptiness, hurling peace and contentment into an orbit in a distant galaxy.

So, what’s the solution, you ask? Allow me to share my personal journey of self-discovery. A ten-day silent (vipassana meditation) retreat that I attended back in 2008 transformed not just my perspective on life, but also my future. Thus was born my first publication, “Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me.”

Silence or meditation is a tool that can help an individual transcend external chaos and confusion, surrender to their inner calling, and resurrect their authentic self. Ultimately, individuals realize that happiness and satisfaction lie in the present moment—the here and now—the ultimate motivator for living a balanced life.

Silence isn’t just for monks and holy people; it’s for the general populace too—for you and for me. Silence offers a solution to taming stress and anxiety—a daily experience of digital-agers. Silence can help individuals connect with themselves just like Facebook helps individuals connect with the world.

For me personally, meditation has induced a sense of awareness that is helping me weather life’s challenges in a calm and positive way. It has lessened my dependence on external approval and acceptance, promoting openness, curiosity, empathy, generosity, and emotional health. I live mindfully and focus on enjoying the journey of life with a positive outlook. Silence enables me to operate in a realm in which I’m truly excited to be myself and I’m energized to serve the greater whole.

So, why not give silence a try? Who knows, it could lead you to step into uncharted territories, or simply boost your confidence at work. Either way, you’ll find a new expression of yourself begin to emerge. Now, isn’t that something worth exploring?

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