Silence as Yoga

I recently read, and would highly recommend, Silence as Yogaby Swami Paramananda. One of the themes that spoke to me the most was  how the practice of silence can lead to much more productive and fruitful action.  Out of silence emerges creative thought, focused energy, calm resolve. Often, when meditating, it feels frightening to let go of the mental noise, as though we cannot be productive without constantly adding to our mental list of tasks that need to be completed. Our energy becomes scattered as we try to hold everything in at once.

When the mind focuses on trying to hold on to worries and the other million things we have to do, we are unconsciously hiding a deeper emotional issue. Underlying stress and anxiety is a fear of letting go, a fear of surrender, ultimately, a fear of death. We are terrified that if we let go, everything will come apart and we will die. Anxiety and stress are coping mechanisms for fear of death.

Then, when we strip away another layer, we find another hidden assumption, and the root of our ego. The feeling that if we let go, everything will fall apart is akin to thinking that we are God. It is an illusion to imagine that through our minds we have real control over ourselves, our lives, and especially the entire world. This does not imply powerlessness or weakness at all. In fact, only once we recognize this can we connect to our true power. Many spiritual paths and religions assert the paradox that one must die to live. As Paramananda says, creativity, focus and energy comes out of silence. It may seem impossible that action and energy comes from silence.  Our ego, the surface level where our fear and anxiety resides, must be moved away so that the deeper levels can emerge and the reality of Tat Tvam Asi (I am That) can be realized.

“If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.” -Chuang Tzu

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The Eye of Wisdom

Shiva-Notice his Third Eye

“O Nobly Born, remember the pure open sky of your own true nature. Return to it. Trust it. It is home.” -Buddha

Where is the orientation of  awareness? Many of us experience the mind as centered in the head; the central focus of our awareness is our thoughts. Using the practice of meditation, the orientation of our awareness can become boundless and vast, like the sky mentioned in the Buddha quote above.

In the Upanishads, the human being is thought to have 10 gates that open to experience. 9 of these gates open us to the external world: eyes, ears, mouth, etc. The 10th gate, however, opens to inner experience and is known as the 3rd eye or the “Eye of Wisdom.”

Many spiritual traditions mention the third eye including Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Kabbalah. Some researchers associate the Third Eye with the Pineal gland, the endocrine gland that produces melatonin and is thought to produce Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) which naturally occurs in the brain and be associated with near death experiences, dreaming, and visions. Many South American Shamanic practices use a DMT-based plant brew as a religious sacrament.

Although the Third Eye is centered in the forehead, its object of perception is not centered in the mind. It is rather the seat of our being, the place from which we can return to the Sky-Home that Buddha mentions. When we begin to cultivate this inner awareness, the possibilities are limitless. We  start to encounter vast realms of spiritual depth and beauty, and worlds are opened as our Third Eye opens.

It may seem that we could become lost in the ‘inner world’ and lose touch with the outer. However, the more open, clear and “sky-like’ our awareness becomes, the more centered we become in the moment and in each tiny event that occurs in our body, mind, heart and surrounding world. We experience a profound sense of freedom, where all that is inside of us can move and flow, unrestricted. Everything we feel and think has the full space to be experienced, yet enough space to be released and not become stuck.

Open Sky Meditation

  • Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and your body relaxed.
  • Start by noticing your breath. As you become more relaxed, take deeper breaths. Do not force it, only notice it gently.
  • Notice how your breath is like wind.
  • As you breathe, bring your awareness to your feet. Imagine that your breath is breathing into your feet. Repeat and breathe into each part of your body up to the top of your head. Your awareness will feel expanded to the extremities of your body.
  • Imagine that your awareness is not limited to your body. Gently let it expand in each direction, open, free and clear.
  • If thoughts or emotions come up, let them. Accept each one and imagine that they are clouds floating in the sky of your awareness.
  • If the vastness feels overwhelming and fear arises, watch it mindfully, always finding compassion for yourself.
  • Allow yourself to trust the feeling of spaciousness, knowing that you will not be lost.
  • Gently return your awareness to your breath and then the rest of your body and slowly open your eyes.

With practice, you will begin to feel more at home in this open space. You may find clarity, light, love and a greater acceptance for yourself to fully be.

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