The dictionaries define stillness as ‘the absence of movement or sound’ or ‘a state of freedom from storm or disturbance.’ Stillness has often been viewed through the dimensions of the body (physical stillness), the mind (mental stillness) and the spirit (spiritual stillness). For example, Osho spoke of three dimensions of stillness. The first dimension of stillness is silence, as absence of sound. The second dimension is the non-movement of the mind, achieved by mindful living in the present, by always being ‘here and now’. The third dimension comes with the realization that the ego is the source of all the noise, movement and disturbance. This third dimension of stillness is a state of overcoming the ego.
Silence and meditation thus lie at the heart of all aspects of stillness. For centuries, silence (including the vow of silence), has been the path recommended by many monastic orders. Silence deepens the spiritual experience and opens up the non-verbal communication between the seeker and the divine. Silence leads to elevated spiritual states, and a direct ‘dialogue’ with the divine.
The Hindu tradition has one of the most sacred spiritual practices, mauna, or intentional limiting of one’s speech. Mauna begins in the self-imposed speechlessness (physical restraint of the vocal organ), but it blossoms into inner silence, a silence of the mind. A great deal of energy, otherwise dissipated in idle talk, is transformed into spiritual energy and awareness. The seeker is now able to enter deep states of meditation, to achieve stability and purity of the mind, and to experience profound inner peace and bliss. Mauna heals and balances visuddha (the throat chakra), allowing a free flow of energy between anahata (the heart chakra) and ajna (the third eye). This opens up the gates to intuition, wisdom and self-realization.
Buddha once declared a set of fourteen unfathomable questions about the nature of reality. Whenever a seeker would ask one of these, Buddha would refuse to respond, saying that such questions were irrelevant, as they did not lead to true knowledge. To any such questions, Buddha’s form of response was silence. This gave birth to the buddhist tradition of the noble silence. Noble silence provides direct, non-intellectual insights into the the nature of all existence and the reality beyond illusion. To meditators, silence becomes a powerful tool and a medium that nurtures calmness, mindfulness, and genuine compassion.
All the chatter and the noise in our lives is birthed in our minds. The mind, which is not calm, constantly recycles the same limited, fear-based and self-centered thoughts. Our speech, birthed in such thoughts, further reinforces the scarcity mindset and limiting beliefs. As a result, our negative attitudes, thoughts and feelings manifest a crippled, disfigured reality. We experience scarcity in the place where we should be experiencing an abundant life.
Therefore, the first step towards creating the reality we desire, is emptying the mind of all its debris. Silence and meditation achieve that, by creating tranquility and calmness. It is only when we are silent, that we are able to truly listen — not to the chatter of other people, but to the subtle language of the universe. ‘Silence is the language of god, all else is poor translation,’ spoke Rumi. The god which Rumi spoke of is the Infinite, the Source of all there is, our true nature.
Pyramid Valley International conducts a 7-day Stillness Retreat every alternate month. Please check the page https://pyramidvalley.org/stillness for details and registration for the upcoming event in February 2021.