The first principle of yoga is ahimsa, non-harming, kindness. The second is satya, truth. A day of silence is big commitment, a gift of inner attention and space. Notice and keep letting go of any expectations and attachment to how it might go. This is a practice of silence and, equally important, of kindness and compassion, acceptance and resting. We are participating in an experiment and observing the results. This can be a rich way to get to know ourselves.
In our lives and in any practice, we acknowledge and work through the multiple layers of our experience as humans. We begin with relaxing the most solidly manifest, our physical body. We then work with breath and energy, activity in the thought stream, the higher intuitive layer of the mind, the heart/emotion and the space of awareness itself.
In the days leading up to our silence retreat, tune in and acknowledge your commitment and your intention to practice silence. You might plan on the full day. You may have other commitments and people around and plan to join for an hour or two. It’s all good. Just like you would look forward with pleasure to seeing a dear friend on the weekend, allow yourself to bring your practice of silence to mind this week.
Helpful in preparation:
- Pratyahara is a practice of withdrawing the mind from the senses. This is easier if you are not continually exposed to wildly stimulating environments. Notice your physical, energetic and thought responses to various situations and events. Consider taking a break from social media and the news for a few days before the retreat to allow your system a rest and the energy of thought to slow and subside.
- Prepare your practice space to be conducive to silence. Ideally this is a place where you can be alone or with others doing the practice and where you have access to the outdoors at points during the day. It is helpful if it is an appropriate temperature, clean and uncluttered.
- If there will be noise, you might wear noise-cancelling headphones to block out sounds. Depending on your circumstance, you could let others know what you are doing, ask for their co-operation and to not be interrupted or engaged in conversation. It will look different for everyone and it is all fine. We can work with what we have. Go with a conducive environment, not perfection.
- Be as well rested as possible so you can remain alert during the practices
- Eat a light meal the night before and during the day of silence
- Bathe or wash prior to beginning and wear clean clothes
“Make silence an opportunity for a dive into the deeper layers of the mind. Mind is an ocean that has many levels. At each layer of the mind the frequency of its force-field differs. At the speech level, it is at its lowest frequency. At the pure-thought level it is at a little higher frequency. From there, when you move on to the deeper, silent layers, they are of a higher frequency yet — so high a frequency that, at the level of the low-frequency mind, it is barely noticeable. We have to learn to go to that place.” Quote from my meditation teacher Swami Veda
Practices of silence are an opportunity to get to know habits and compulsions through mindfulness. Always, be kind with yourself. We are giving ourselves a gift of time and attention. Allow yourself to enjoy and be nourished by it.
Please email me LynnFraserStillpoint@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns. I am always happy to hear from you.
I am very much looking forward to practicing silence together!