It comes in the stillness
A wordless knowing
And beautifully nothing
In Sanskrit, the word mouna (roughly translated) means “silence”. In its most basic essence, this can be practised as non-speaking. Mouna is often introduced in yoga retreats as a daily period of non-speaking and, at more advanced levels, as several days of silence.
For many, the idea of not talking, even for a few hours, is daunting: the mind races in with questions like “ But how will I communicate?” and “What will I do with no conversation?
For many, the idea of not talking, even for a few hours, is daunting: the mind races in with questions like “But how will I communicate?” and “What will I do with no conversation?”
In actuality, so much of how we think about ourselves, others, and the world is created through conversation. Talking about and relating experiences, forming opinions and having others agree and disagree with them creates a strong sense of identity and thus perpetuates a mind-based concept of who we think ourselves to be. Our minds then create thoughts to continue that momentum… and before we know it, who we think we are is dictated by our thoughts and our conversations with others. And we get totally lost within it.
The magic of mouna
The practice of Hatha yoga prepares us to enter this space of silence through asana (yoga postures) by keeping the body fit and healthy without aches and pains for the mind to focus on, through Pranayama by balancing the flow of energy through the body, eventually creating a stillness in the body and mind, bringing us to the stage of Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses). This is where mouna starts to work its magic.
Mouna provides us the opportunity to simply watch; to observe the activity of the mind without getting involved in its antics.
Mouna provides us the opportunity to simply watch; to observe the activity of the mind without getting involved in its antics. When we simply observe our thoughts and how they activate our emotions and drive our behaviour without getting involved, eventually the ego mind settles a bit and something else very precious arises.
After the thoughts have settled, from deep within the stillness and the silence there arises an acute awareness. It is an awareness revealing the very nature or “aliveness” in everything.
Our attention draws within, and we begin to see that everything in the world is bursting with Life’s creative message. It is so extremely and uncontrollably beautiful because it is the very same creative message which is bursting within ourselves.
Life’s creative message
It is from this space of knowing that true creativity arises. Everything in existence carries Life’s message of loving and living in every way and form possible. When we can shed a bit of our mind-based identity through mouna and rest comfortably in this knowing, then a world which is even fuller and richer than our minds can comprehend is revealed.
Our whole world breathes to this rhythm and dances to this exquisite melody, together orchestrating the Grand Symphony of All Life.
It is through mouna that we can begin to hear with a listening way beyond what our ears can perceive. It begins with the external practice of non-speaking and eventually evolves into a deep inner listening, within which we can hear the calling of this symphony, the message of the Universe, in which each and every note is leading us back home.
A class to help you embrace the silence:
EkhartYoga members can follow this lovely class with Irina Verwer. She explains how to get in and out of each pose briefly and holds the silence for you so you can dive deep into yourself and connect with your divine spark again.