Take a deep breath. Close and open your eyes. Look at the phrase ‘mental silence’ without analysing or trying to intellectualise it in some other way. Slowly pronounce each syllable mindfully (say men-tal si-lens). ListenHear to the spaces and sounds behind the sounds. Be a witness in the space present yet unmoved by the physical sensations and inner experiences triggered when you say and listen to the phrase. Mental silence is a certain calmness, like a substance of eternal and indestructible peace. This article is an attempt to help you harness this, understand, experience and apply the concept of mental silence in your pursuits.
ACTIVE VOICE INTRODUCTION IS BETTER - CONNECTS DIRECTLY TO READERAUDIENCE
Introduction (Passive voice)
In order to grasp the essence of this topic, the first step is to look at the phrase ‘mental silence’ without analysing or trying to intellectualise it in some other way. Slowly pronouncing each syllable mindfully (saying men-tal si-lens) and hearing the spaces behind the sounds helps. Mental silence is when a person is a witness in the space; present yet unmoved by the physical sensations and inner experiences triggered when one says or listens to the phrase. This state is a certain calmness, like a substance of eternal and indestructible peace. This article is an attempt to help one harness this, understand, experience and apply the concept of mental silence in one’s pursuits.
What is mental silence?
To experience it completely, one needs to first understand what the mind is.
The mind is like water in an ocean. Waves, ripples and currents are akin to the thoughts and their intensity. Impurities can be mixed into it and they can also be removed. The mind is a substance which can accommodate various movements and objects but is not a movement or an object by itself. However, the identity of oneself is a large object in each person’s mind.
When the objects (biases) are removed and movements (thoughts) cease in the substance called the mind, the state entered is mental silence. The same becomes present when thoughts come from outside and cross the mind as a flight of birds crosses the sky in a windless air. In such a silent mind, movements (thoughts) passes, disturbs nothing and leaves no trace
The conventional meaning of silence can direct one into thinking that mental silence occurs when the mind shuts down. Interestingly, it is the opposite. Mental silence is when the mind is truly open. Receptivity is at its highest when there are no thoughts. This is the receptivity to intuition and direct knowing.
Sri Aurobindo says:
“The stillness of the mind means, first, the falling to rest of the habitual thought movements... which agitate this mind-substance.
But, one sees, when one looks more closely at it, that the mind substance is still in a constant state of very subtle, formless but potentially formative vibration…
...that state of constant vibration may be .. harmful to the exact reflection or reception of the descending Truth ... for these vibrations are the source of a mentalisation which can diminish or distort the authenticity of the higher Truth or break it up into mental refractions. When I speak of a still mind, I mean then one in which these subtler disturbances too are no longer there.”
Practising mental silence
Silently witnessing one’s own thoughts without analysis, judgement or emotion is the beginning of practising mental silence.
Keeping the mind calm
Mental silence is a certain calmness. This does not necessarily mean that there are no thoughts; it means that regardless of the number, frequency and intensity of thoughts, the mind-substance remains peaceful. The key to keeping the mind calm is treating thoughts as a temporary guest in the mind, and not to prevent these surface thoughts from entering or eliminating innerexisting thoughts of clarity, light and deeper aspiration.
Sri Aurobindo writes “The difference between a vacant mind and a calm mind is this: when the mind is vacant, there is no thought, no conception, no mental action of any kind, except an essential perception of things without the formed idea; but in the calm mind, it is the substance of the mental being that is still, so still that nothing disturbs it. If thoughts or activities come, they do not rise at all out of the mind, but they come from outside…”
Peace and mental silence go hand-in-hand. Mental silence is not a state in which one feels empty and devoid of thoughts. On the contrary, mental silence comes about when peace as a substance enters one’s mind from higher planes. In this solid peace, one is unperturbed by the coming and going of thoughts, as at the maximum they scratch the surface of the rock-solid peace.
Sri Aurobindo says “Peace is a deep quietude where no disturbance can come - a quietude with a sense of established security and release. In complete silence there are either no thoughts or, if they come, they are felt as something coming from outside and not disturbing the silence. The silence of the mind, peace or calm in the mind are three things that are very close together and bring each other.”
After the discovery of quiet and calm peace, one must strive to ensure that it occupies all parts of one’s being. This state must widen and one must lose himself in it and become one with it. When one has widened his/her consciousness sufficiently enough to dissolve in and experience the all-pervasive, timeless and infinite peace, the receptivity to the Divine will be enhanced maximum.
Sri Aurobindo says “The wider your consciousness becomes, the more you will be able to receive from above. The Shakti will be able to descend and bring strength and light as well as peace into the system. What you feel as narrow and limited in you is the physical mind; it can only widen if this wider consciousness and the light come down and possess the nature.”
When peace and wideness are established in the silent mind, it can become the base for further Light, Delight, Force to come in and act. One then becomes an instrument for the higher consciousness and does not lose any incoming higher knowledge, force and will, through any ‘mentalising’ movements.
What is the purpose of openingdisciplining oneself to the practice mental silence? As mentioned previously, it brings peace and tranquillity. The mind is like still water with no disturbances. Apart from this, there are a few other benefits which can be applied to all aspects of one’s life.
The Mother says “When one has learned to silence the mind at will and to concentrate it in receptive silence, then there will be no problem that cannot be solved, no mental difficulty whose solution cannot be found.”
Guidance for one’s actions
A blank slate is one that is ready to be written on. Both knowledge and its usage can descend into one’s mind when one removes the noise. This can guide in decision-making, the direction of efforts and everyday actions.
According to The Mother, when Sri Aurobindo wrote his books, “It was neither a mental knowledge nor even a mental creation which he transcribed: he silenced his mind and sat at the typewriter, and from above, from the higher planes, all that had to be written came down, all ready, and he had only to move his fingers on the typewriter and it was transcribed.”
When one is in receptive silence, revelations can occur. These might be personal or pertaining to something for which one is seeking answers. These insights can deepen one’s understanding of a particular topic.
The intensity of the emotions felt is greatly reduced since one is not personalising an experience or situation. With practice that is integrated into everyday life, handling conflicts, relationship issues, crises and other triggers that can impact emotions can be made easier. At the same time, one becomes an instrument for a greater Force, Love, Will and Delight to course through, in a calm state and act on the world..
Practising mental silence brings the ever-jumping mind to a state of rest, in which one can experience solitude and be receptive to divine guidance. The practice of mental silence can be used to understand the subjects which one finds difficult. It improves concentration. It is extremely effective for reducing stress and anxiety. The applications of mental silence in education and health are effective. The next step in the road ahead is to increase awareness and improve the practice.