How to Access Silence in You and Around You?


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by Jayaram V

Noise is temporary. Silence is continuous and universal. You can become aware of it through meditation and mindfulness. BuddhaVac

There is silence in you and around you. You will not notice it as long as you are busy with your life and lost in the external noises, objects and attractions of the world. However, if you pay attention, you may find it. This silence is hidden in the universe. It is not readily discernible, but it is present everywhere. If you slowdown or pause and pay attention, you will find it even in the midst of noise. It is present in you as well outside you.

We are programmed to listen to noise, but not to silence. We become aware of silence only when there are no sounds or noises in our surroundings. Indeed, it rarely happens, may be in a solemn gathering or inside a temple or a sacred place or in a meditation hall or in a library. However, you can learn to listen to silence which is ubiquitously present all around you, just as space, by perceiving the silence hidden behind all sounds. Just as you do not perceive the space around you unless you become conscious of it, you do not notice silence. The din of life arises and subsides in silence. This is a universal fact. Your life begins with a cry and ends in silence.

Just as life, so is noise. Both are temporary. For example, what happens, when a sound subsides? You will experience silence. What is present before a sound is heard? The absence of that sound, or the ever unassuming presence of silence. The truth is, silence is always present, whether there is noise or not. You become aware of it only in the absence of noise. However, if you are mindful, you can feel its presence even when there is noise.

We do not create silence. We cannot destroy it also. We may temporarily suppress it by creating noise. Noise can be created or destroyed, but silence can neither be created nor destroyed. Just as your soul or your personality, it is always present behind all sounds and noises as a witness to the drama of life. It is why to find peace and silence, we prefer to go to places where there are no sounds or disturbances.

Here is a simple exercise which you can do to find silence amidst noise. Start with by closing your eyes, and taking a few deep breaths. As you relax, become aware of the sounds around you. As you listen to them, become aware of the silence that precedes them and follows them. As you continue with this, you gradually become aware of the presence of both noises and silence at the same time. Once you reach this stage, you can decide where you want to focus your attention. If you focus on silence, you become increasingly aware of it even when sounds are present or coming from different directions.

You can do the same internally also. As in previous case, close your eyes and relax. As you are relaxed and your mind is flowing, begin to observe your thoughts. If you continue, you will notice that there is a brief interlude or silence between two thoughts which arise in your consciousness as your mind moves from one thought to another. Try to prolong that silence, by not letting a new thought enter your mind as your mind lets go of the previous one. As you succeed in that effort, you will prolong the space between two thoughts and experience inner silence. Thoughts arise in silence and subside in silence. Your consciousness is established in silence only. Silence is its support. On the edges of that silence or at the base of it exists Nirvana or liberation, the deepest of all supreme silences.

Silence is always present when you are in deep sleep. Your mind does not fully rest since it is always in contact with the various organs in the body. Even when you are asleep, the neurons in your nervous system remain partially active and the autonomous nervous system remains fully functional, while the biological clock or the biorhythms of your body keeps running.

It is very difficult to discern silence when you are in deep sleep, but you may become aware of both external and internal silence, when you are partially awake. The best time to pay attention to it is when you are about to wake up in the early morning or when you are about to fall asleep. At that time, the world is relatively silent, and so also your mind and body. It is when you hear silence and sounds that are subtle and difficult to hear when the world is awake.

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