Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

A Day Designed In Silence

by Warren Garstecki

Thoughts Arising from the Influence of Mauni Amavasya.

At Swami Veda’s urging the Milwaukee Center decided to observe Mauni Amavasya for the second straight year, this year falling on January 20th.  Upon hearing the news, I jumped at the opportunity to sit at our center in meditation for an allotted time, having recalled what a powerful and positive experience it was for me in the previous year.

In the days leading up to Mauni Amavasya, I tried to clear my schedule of all my duties as best I could, so as not to be distracted in my practice by thoughts of things unresolved. Despite my efforts I started my day of silence having to fight off the urge to turn on the television and monitor the daily news, quickly realizing that this had become a habit by the amount of discomfort I felt in fighting this urge. In fact, I had to fight this battle often throughout the day, making up excuses to pick up a newspaper or telling myself that I will just switch on the TV to check on the weather report and then turn it off again. Because these tools of communication with the outside world are so readily available in our homes I believe practicing silence at home is much more challenging than attending a formal silence retreat. What really helped me to overcome this distraction was the examination of its source. 

When I watch the news it often appears to me that the world is spiraling out of control at a rapid pace, and yet because I tune in each day the world has not yet self destructed. I have deluded myself into thinking that if I lend my attention to the world’s problems that I am somehow preventing further chaos. This attachment is similar to the dilemma Arjuna faces in the Bhagavad Gita. I found great comfort and clarity in the reply of Krishna when he tells Arjuna:

“When your intellect overcomes and crosses the confused mass of delusion, then you will reach the state of dispassion concerning all that you have heard and learned and all that you have yet to hear and learn.”

When I came to this realization I immediately felt the chains of this attachment loosen.

“When your intellect, previously confused by the variety of teachings, remains firm and unmoving in samadhi, then you will attain yoga.”

As the day went on and my mind began to settle a bit, I decided to make the hour drive to the Milwaukee Center to sit in silence.  Swami Veda had given us instructions to only drive in the event of an emergency on Mauni Amavasya, and I quickly realized one of the reasons for not driving on this day. Because I have been driving for so many years, my driving is often done in a state of mindless habit, but on this day of silence I found it to be a very different experience. The roads were clear with little traffic, yet I found myself very apprehensive, as if I was a new driver experiencing the dangers of driving for the first time. I can only attribute this unusual feeling to being more in the moment and realizing the dangers of driving, as opposed to my usual habitual driving where I block these dangers out.

Once in the safety and loving comfort of our center I was again able to begin to relax again, and start my meditation journey towards silence.  The wonderful thing I find about both silence and meditation is that they get easier and more rewarding with each visit. I know my experience of silence is unlike that of Swami Veda, and I may never reach the peak of the mountain of solitude and silence that Swamiji has paved for us. I can only hope to view through the clouds the path towards silence in which he permanently resides. For now, I can find solace and take sanctuary in this small glimpse of silence, and for this I will be forever grateful.

Seeking silence,

Warren Garstecki

Editor’s Note:

We invite you to visit the website of the center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, at http://www.himalayanyogamilwaukee.org/



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