Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
  AHYMSIN Newsletter, Issue - May 2013  

Can We Live in Silence in Everyday Life?

by Denise Harker-Martin

With Swami Veda Bharati taking a vow of 5 years of Silence, it’s a good time to be inspired and ask the question: can I incorporate some Silence into my life?

At Aware Yoga, we have been enjoying Silence weekends and Silence days and we have now introduced Silence hours. What's this I hear you ask?

Silence hours are an opportunity to come to Hatha class for asana and systematic relaxation, then take a walk in nature in Silence followed by an hour of Silence supported by 108 breath nadi shodhanam, japa, meditation,– you choose the combination you need. No talking from the teacher, just a group of like-minded beings enjoying the fullness that comes from Silence – together.

There is real power in coming together to enjoy Silence:  group support, a shared energy, specific time put aside rather than trying to ‘fit’ it in to life, a sankalpa – a commitment to come and participate. Many of us experienced the power of this recently at the Sangha gathering where 200 people took 10days Silence together. Such opportunities are not always available –so it is important to create other ways to keep enjoying Silence, keep changing the minds habits. So Silence hours provide an opportunity to change our mind’s habits regularly - not just on retreats.

We can also take one step further and incorporate changes into everyday life, an opportunity to change the minds habits every day, not just in class, in silence hours, workshops or retreats. A few thoughts on this are offered below and perhaps these begin to answer the question 'Can we live in Silence in everyday life?'

These thoughts are not offered as you have to do all these things...that thought is the mind’s habit for some of us (if I can't do it all or don't have time, I won't do any of it...or...I have to do it all, then you don't and you feel guilty ...or maybe I'm just speaking of myself, you decide!)
This is about sharing ideas, possibilities about how simply we can tune into silence, develop our awareness, be in the moment, go inside and be with the Self. It is a reminder of what our teachers have often said and offered us as examples (again and again!).

With these new habits we can move towards a more tranquil existence, be a calmer person to be around and feel better. So pick a couple of things and see what happens...over time you may choose a different couple...after a while you may find you are naturally doing them all. You are living differently with the support and fullness that your new habits and Silence brings.
If you run a Centre maybe introduce Silence hours and enjoy changing the minds habits together.

So see you in the Ocean of Silence...dive in the waters lovely and warm!
With love and gratitude to our teachers for showing us true patience and how to live in Silence. Denise Martin-Harker, Aware Yoga, UK Centre

(Everyone is welcome here for classes, workshops, silent retreats, days and hours. Take a look at our website for dates www.awareyoga.co.uk )

Waking up and going to sleep

Use the yoga practice of Atma-tattva-avalokanam - awareness of the Self (your inner being) when you go to sleep and when you wake up.

  • Go to sleep with a calm mind and positive thoughts - you will wake the same way calm and positive.
  • Before bed, take time to calm down, let go. Use your breath, relaxation techniques, read some inspirational words.
  • Avoid giving the mind more to process, e.g. TV, working on computer, reading too late, difficult/emotional topics of discussion.

During the day

Observe breath and Mantra So Ham in your daily transitions

  • Sit with spine straight - in a chair, on a train, at your desk...wherever you are, close your eyes and tune into your breath and mantra for 2mins

This brings us back regularly throughout the day to a calm mind helping us develop this new habit.

  • The Minds Habit is the minds Habit, so we aim to develop a calm focused mind rather than a busy distracted mind.
  • It also helps us develop patience (another good habit) --rather than rushing from one thing to the next.

Examples of transitions:

  • Before you get out of car to go into work
  • After you've put the shopping away
  • Before a meeting/After a meeting
  • Before you collect the children from school

There is no such thing as waiting!

The supermarket queue is a great place for breath and mantra - it keeps the outside, outside. Anytime you are waiting /queuing ...breath and mantra 
It’s a wonderful opportunity for time with the Self, developing your new mind habits, an ability to focus, being in the moment, accepting and enjoying that queue or waiting time!

Walking down the street

Using the yoga practice of pratyahara - Controlling the senses

  • Try not to look around everywhere, keep a focused gaze down a few feet in front. Shop windows and advertising will distract you and you are more likely to want to buy things you don't need, so this will help you develop focus and save you money!
  • You will also become more aware of how you walk, perhaps where you need to relax more, whether your shoulders are relaxed, spine straight, breathing calm. 

Decrease the processing that our already busy minds have to do

  • Try a No TV night
  • Try No radio in the car
  • Limit input you don't need, less for the mind to process - at the hairdressers and nail salon give the gossip and fashion magazines a miss! 
  • Have times of the day when your mobile is off...not on silent as you will hear it buzz and be tempted to pick it up!
  • Have deliberate time in the office where you are not in front of the computer

Speak less

  • Thinking before we speak
  • Do I need to say that? Why do I feel the need to say that?
  • Saves energy and helps us realise why we sometimes speak ...to show others what we know, to be heard, to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to put our opinions on others (control) etc.
  • And in difficult conversations remember the expression: if you can’t think of something nice to say don’t say it

When we eat

  • Take a few calm breaths and sit quietly before you begin, give thanks for the food.
  • No food on the move, or in front of the TV. This way you will appreciate the food, take your time and your body can focus on digesting it
  • And as Swami Rama says NO FIGHTING over the dining table, it turns your food into poison!
  • Chew your food completely so the enzymes needed for digestion can do their thing.
  • After eating if you can do digestive breathing great; if not, again sit quietly, breathe diaphragmatically and then move around – talk a short relaxed walk –nothing over energetic as this diverts energy away from your digestive process

Observe your habits

We need to learn to observe ourselves ...if we want to change; we need to know where we are starting from, what we are working with

  • What do you reach for when you are stressed ...coffee, chocolate, distractions?
  • Do you rely on certain things to get you through the day
  • Can you change your day/schedule so you don’t need these things?
  • Can you reduce those habits and replace with e.g. breath, relaxation instead?
  • When emotions or stress appear is a certain area of your body tightening, does your breathing change etc.
  • What are you influenced by …your family, friends, work environment, advertising.
  • Do you need the latest clothes, gadget, yoga mat because ‘everyone’ has one?
  • What thoughts regularly occupy your mind? What is driving them?

Incorporate breathing techniques into your day

Before any meeting, important conversation, major travel, something you find stressful: Sit for 5 minutes and breathe – feel the breath at the nostrils and stay in the moment; don’t let you mind play out the conversation, the meeting, the what’s going to happen is…

  • Balancing Breath: Nadi Shodhanam
  • Cleansing/detoxifying breath: 2:1 breath

Great during the mid afternoon slump: If you can get out and walk and do this even better. 

  • Calming breath: Diaphragmatic breath

You can check on this anytime of the day --are you breathing diaphragmatically when you concentrate on writing, reading, doing, sitting at the computer, etc.

Walking in nature

Nature has inherent stillness; it helps us get in touch with our stillness, our inner silence, our inner Nature.

  • Leave the office and take a walk for 15 minutes; you will come back refreshed and more productive!
  • Sit and eat your lunch in nature (a park for example) – rather than talking while eating, listen to bird song.

Cleaning the mind

Using Japa (mantra) –sitting and repeating mantra in the mind putting positive vibration in the mind and letting go of what we don’t need to hold onto.

If life does not allow this time, repeat mantra in the mind while you are washing up, cleaning, baking, gardening, walking.

Swami Veda has suggested that we work with the Shiva Sankalpa prayer over the next 5 years of Sadhana…you could take the line from that prayer

Tan me manah shiva sankalpam astu’

which means may my mind be filled with beautiful and benevolent thoughts.

So much more positive and powerful than the mixed up, busy thoughts that often occupy our minds!

REST the body and mind
Relaxation, Relaxation, Relaxation...

Using the yoga practice of Shavasana, systematic relaxation, or the 61 point blue star Yoga Nidra technique.

This also teaches us patience, staying in the moment and develops our ability to focus and become aware.

A good practice for the no TV night!


Our body is the ‘densest’ part of our mind …our thoughts, concerns, tensions and ‘busyness’ all show themselves in the body. The face in particular tells a story …People hurrying to work often look anxious and strained.

So relax your face, relax your body, and as Swami Veda is always reminding us, “Relax your forehead.”  A relaxed forehead is the result of a calm, still mind …

Start by becoming aware (regularly during the day) of the expressions and strains you are bringing to your face and forehead. Especially when you are busy, rushing somewhere or in conversation. You will feel the tension there once you start ‘checking’ – then breathe and ask your mind (gently) to relax your face, relax your forehead to let go of whatever it is gripping hold of!

Last but not least –SMILE

Life, this planet and the people in our lives are extraordinary; everything is teaching us something –even the difficult stuff!

So smile as you catch yourself and your thoughts, as you notice things.

Smiling makes you feel better and everyone else feel better …hopefully people around you will start smiling too, they may not know why –but they will.

And in a true smile is a positive, calm mind and a relaxed forehead!

And no need for words –it’s a universal symbol, translated in any country with no extra explanation needed (a silent exchange!).

Editor’s Note:

Denise Martin-Harker is the centre leader of Aware Yoga in Ware, Hertfordshire, UK.

Aware Yoga regularly offers Sunday Silence Hour; see http://www.awareyoga.co.uk/workshops.php

On 8th – 9th June 2013, Aware Yoga will be offering “Yoga and Science,” a workshop with Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati and Dr. Shirley Telles.  See: http://www.awareyoga.co.uk/workshops.php

For the practice given by Swami Veda Bharati on 9th March 2013, please see: http://ahymsin.org/main/practice/practice-for-the-next-five-years-and-the-rest-of-your-life.html


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