Sounds of Winter
Perhaps it is living in an old house with the constant hums and rattles of radiators and aging appliances, or perhaps the fact that I live there with three delightfully energetic teen-aged boys, but, for some reason, the sweetness of silence has been on my mind of late.
And what a rare event it is, an encounter with silence. I had one deep in the woods after pausing to rest atop a thin blanket of snow. For a few precious moments no wind blew, no creatures stirred. All was still except for the gentle beating of my own heart.
When the wind resumed, and, along with it the rustle of a nearby tree still holding the last of its leaves, the sound seemed surprisingly different than it had just a few minutes before. It grew louder, quietly thunderous, capturing my attention and opening a door to a world that always exists amongst the trees. One I often miss.
I've noticed the same thing in the yoga studio. To my amusement, I've recently purchased three new clocks after our trusty (and silent!) clock fell from the wall. Each time, armed with a battery in my pocket, I set out to test the sound of a potential purchase. And, each time, I'm sure I've found the right one; the ticking is soft, almost imperceptible. Until meditation that is...
I can't help but wonder how my ears can deceive me so! It's not that I'm not paying attention to my surroundings. In fact, I usually am. And yet, a momentary meeting with silence inevitably alters sensory experiences that I once would have labeled as objective.
Through my practice, I've come to understand that this shift arises not because of the change in the auditory experience but through the quieting of brain waves that occur as a result. Silence is just one of many doorways through which we can access a change in thought patterns and perception with the stilling of the mind.
Have you ever arisen at the end of yoga class and noticed that the light seemed different somehow? Or become absorbed in the activity of a beloved child or friend only to notice that the world seems a softer, gentler place? Or perhaps sat still for just a moment to discover a new idea or solution has materialized?
We live in a complex world, and there is much to do. Action, and lots of it, is a valued and inevitable part of being human, especially as we strive to ensure a safe future for ourselves and for our children. To support our actions though, we might consider incorporating moments of deliberate stillness, moments that allow us to be guided by the quiet truth toward a more vibrant future.
~Kate Pousont Scarborough, Director Shelburne Falls Yoga