Can you coax the mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become supple
as a newborn child’s?
Can you cleanse your inner vision until
you see nothing but the light? …
Lao Tze, from the Tao te Ching, Chapter 10, Translated by Stephen Mitchell(1)
As I write this on “Black Friday”, one of the busiest days for the year, as well as the cusp of the busiest time of year for so many, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate with gratitude the healing power of silence.
Yoga, meditation and so many of the related self-care practices offer incredible benefits that support our recovery from illness, disease and so many other of the plagues that befall us. For that alone we can be truly grateful. They do this in large part by relieving the accumulated effects of long-term stress and the deleterious effects that it can have on body, mind, and Self. They serve to relieve at least some, if not most of the stress-related reasons disease can overcome our immune system and take hold within us in the first place. By doing this we support our innate capacity to heal and better receive the benefits of medicine and other modalities of treatment in which we are engaged.
We use often phrases such as re-lax, re-store, and re-vitalize to better experience and invite the healing benefits of these practices. All this implies that even in bustling activity and tumultuous times these states of being are accessible to us. It is of a great benefit to have built some healthful habits to help us more easily realize this truth but in fact, relief from heavy mental states and difficult times may often just a moment away. Often this respite can be as simple as taking a brief time to skillfully come to our center. We can all develop and sharpen our own simple and powerful habits that bring our busy selves to the silence that can get us back to balance, clarity. and greater inner peace..
Even when we sense or know this to be true for ourselves we can still be overwhelmed. The enjoyable and not so pleasant distractions, acute and chronic stress, and the seemingly endless obligations of life can make it hard to get back to our center and to any sense of ease. The habit of seeking and abiding in reflective silence in these times can give powerful aid to ourselves.
There are many ways or paths to keep to the original oneness and we don’t need to go back to the words of Lao Tze, Rumi or other ancients for inspiration.
In his song “Hymns to the Silence” modern mystic musician and troubadour Van Morrison describes the way of his protagonist, who admits to having lost his way having “burned the candle at both ends”, on his own “journey back home” as follows
“I wanna go out
in the countryside
Oh sit by the clear, cool, crystal water
Get my spirit, way back to the feeling
Deep in my soul, I wanna feel
Oh so close to the One, close to the One
Close to the One, close to the One
And that’s why I keep on singing baby
My hymns to the silence, hymns to the silence”(2)
So whether it is time in your Yoga class, on your meditation cushion, a deep breath in a busy shopping mall, or a moment of reflection by clear, cool, crystal waters, this season I invite you to be grateful all the simple ways you may have developed over the years to support your growing connection to the healing silence within.