Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi
Association of Himalayan Yoga Meditation Societies International
Two minute meditations


by Michael Smith

Michael Smith
(click for larger)

Michael was a panel member on a Skype call of the AHYMSIN “Open House” initiative that took place on 26th April, 2014. This call was hosted by Lela Pierce. ThePanel and Topics: Pandit Tejomaya, Emotional Purification; Michael Smith, Silence; Brian Stenquist, Relaxation; Carolyn Hodges, TTP.Participants were from the  USA, Canada, and Guyana.

“The final reality is silence.”(Swami Rama)

I. Silence: Stillness and Spaciousness

(Stop everything for a moment and just experience a one minute of Silence)

At the Sangha Gathering in 2013, before Swami Veda went into Silence, he gave a series of ten talks, and before every talk he asked everyone if they had been doing their two-minute meditations during the day. And Swamiji also asked everyone if they were keeping their foreheads relaxed. He said that these were “advanced practices.” We ignore these things because we think they are too small to be significant, but they are not small; they are very profound practices that can be immensely helpful.

When I think of the word “silence,” in reference to yoga, I always capitalize “Silence” in my mind, because Silence is more than just not talking. It is at a higher level. It is about what the mind is doing. For Swami Veda, Silence is going to the place of Inner Stillness and dwelling there.  It is almost synonymous with Shunya, the Space from which everything manifests, the Womb of Creation, Unity Consciousness, the Universal Matrix. We enter the Heart of Things, the Heart of Nature, and from that Sacred Space, our hearts beat with the same rhythm as the Heart of the Universe.  “In the Himalayan Tradition, Swamiji says, “all true teaching comes out of Silence.”

My father was a businessman and said to me “If money is not the most important thing in the world, it’s not far behind what’s ever in first place.” I think that if Silence is not the ultimate yoga practice, it’s not far behind what’s ever in first place. The sages say, “Go there as often as possible; stay there as long as possible.”

II. Silence as Energy Conservation

That being said, there definitely ARE many benefits to not speaking.  Talking can create arguments and conflicts and more stuff to get involved with – and that’s why talking through Emailing can be so draining  There is a saying by a Roman writer of the 1st century, (Publilius Syrus): “I have often regretted my speech, but never my silence.”   My mother used to recite this poem to me:

“A wise old owl lived in an oak.
The more he knew, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Why can’t we be like that wise bird?”

Another reason that Silence can be so effective is that it conserves energy. One definition of Yoga might be “Yoga is energy conservation.” Talking uses up a lot of energy and creates wear and tear on the respiratory system and the pranic system because when we talk we are, to a certain degree, fighting with ourselves. We are pushing air out through our throats and at the same time blocking the airstream with our throat muscles. Also we are interrupting the smooth flow of our breathing. When we stop talking, we stop dissipating this energy and so there can be a lot more energy available.

What happens to this available extra energy? Where does it go? We can use it to dive deeper into our meditations and penetrate to levels of consciousness to find out what’s there.  We can discover many places where we are blocked. We can get in touch with buried emotions and memories that are driving our behavior from the shadows, emotions and memories that we have not given ourselves sufficient time to examine. When we become aware of them, we can eradicate them. We can’t do that if we never see them. Our essential nature is Spirit, but it is overlaid with habits that hide this treasure from us.

So the task of a yoga student is inner purification: first observing and then eliminating negative habits.  Swami Veda says, “Don’t be afraid of unpleasant emotions.” Pull the mind-weeds. There is a prayer both in Eastern and Western religions: “Dear God, make me over according to Thy Heavenly Design.”  And if we did, for a moment, allow ourselves to be reabsorbed into that Divine Pattern, we would come out of Silence with a greater empathy for all beings and a fuller understanding of how to help make the world a better place.

In the process of going into Silence, people often have profound insights and get in touch with powerful energies. The best definition of yoga that I know is Swami Rama’s definition: “Yoga is self-awareness at all levels.” Silence can show you what these other levels are.

III. Practical Aspects of Silence

We can take personal Silence retreats: at home, in our area, at various places around the country, and especially in India at SRSG in Rishikesh.  Under the guidance of Swami Veda, the other Swamijis and the staff people, throughout the year, sadhakas from all over the world take personal Silence Retreats at SRSG.

In the USA, this summer there are several opportunities to practice Silence in Minnesota:

Mantra Vidya & Silence Workshop with Swami Ritavan (May 29th – June 1st, 2014):

Annual 5-10 Day Silence Retreat atDunrovin Retreat Center with Swami Ma Radha Bharati and Jim Nelson (July 18th - July 27th, 2014):

At the Teacher Training Program (HYT-TTP) from July 20th to August 3rd at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, there will be time given to Silence.  (Please consider becoming a teacher in the Himalayan Yoga Tradition!): 

There is generally a September Silence Retreat held near Plymouth, Wisconsin, sponsored by the Milwaukee Yoga Society.  Watch for announcements about this at their website: http://www.himalayanyogamilwaukee.org/

In California, look for Silence Retreat opportunities at Himalayan Yoga Meditation – Los Angeles: www.hymla.com. On October 3rd - 5th there will be a mini-Silence Retreat with Swami Ma Radha Bharati.  Contact: Valerie Reeves at [email protected]

And also in California, stay tuned in to the Silence Retreats offered through Awakening Center in Brentwood, a little east of San Francisco: http://www.awakeningonline.com/

Silence retreats are wonderful opportunities to remove ourselves from our To-Do Lists and outside commotion for a period of time. Thich Nhat Hanh says to spend at least one month a year in Silence.

“Get off the whirling wheel.” (Swami Veda)

  • If you are new to Silence, talk with your spiritual advisor and arrange a Silence Retreat plan.  Then . . .
  • Seek Solitude.
  • Fine-tune the usual elements of your Integrated Daily Practice with a regular daily schedule, sattvic food, plenty of rest, and so forth.
  • Do lots of Meditation and lots of Japa.
  • Do Contemplative Walking.
  • Spend more time in Nature. Nature is Silent. Nature is vast and nourishing and and healing.
  • Be serious about your Silence. Go Deep.  Eliminate recordings, TV, commuter, books. Take full advantage of that special time. There is a special practice called Kashta Mauna (Wooden Silence), where you try to keep yourself totally centered in the Stillness within; experiment with that. 

IV. Resources on Silence

Editor’s Note:

Silence retreats in other parts of the world can be found at Upcoming Events: http://ahymsin.org/main/events-maps-schedules/upcoming-events.html

Swami Veda encourages people to come to Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama (SRG) for silence retreats; please see “Silence after 2013” at http://ahymsin.org/main/swami-veda-bharati/silence-after-2013.html

Swami Veda talking about “Silence” on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL07083771F7680AF5

The Open House Initiative has been well received and will continue; future date to be announced.



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