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Discovering Silence

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“He suddenly understood the message of so many spiritual teachers that the only revolution that can work is the inner transformation of every human being.”

~Stanislav Grof

When the Quakers meet to worship, it’s traditional for parishioners to gather in silence, sit and listen to the voice of God within their hearts, and occasionally (if inspired or “moved” to do so, hence, a “Quaker”) rise to briefly share with the congregation their received message.

See, the Quakers have known for hundreds of years that in order to really be aligned with God’s Will and truly understand concepts such as consciousness and awareness, one needs to move from the mind and into the heart. For me, meditation, walking in nature and respecting my creativity all leads to a deeper understanding of theories and explanations. In fact, I believe without transcendent, heartfelt silence, most doctrine falls on deaf ears.

I’ve found that through exploring and cultivating stillness, one can access higher states of consciousness and come to something beyond the personal, moving beyond the mind and telling the ego to go hit the road for a while. And as it’s enlivened through regular practice, this state of silence can eventually follow you wherever you go and turn the world into a magical, mystical playground. I’ve felt blessed by such experiences, to see the presence of God in every tree, in every blade of grass, in the sound of the wind.

And where have I come to know all of this? In the depths of my heart.

It seems clear that without deeply quieting the mind, psychological and philosophical theories will ultimately just amount to more mental noise, more distractions to keep us from tuning our True Selves.  

It has been my experience that total surrender—a sense of dying before one dies, a conversion, a communion with something much greater than oneself and diving head first into silence—is the key to authentic knowing. Becoming the experiencer with a capital “E,” not just a human who regurgitates information read in a book (which will only take one so far).

It has been my experience that total surrender—a sense of dying before one dies, a conversion, a communion with something much greater than oneself and diving head first into silence—is the key to authentic knowing.”
It has been my experience that total surrender... is the key to authentic knowing. Click To Tweet

The natural world around us is here, ready and waiting as a perfect guide. It speaks to us deeply and profoundly, if we are able to listen. It offers us a new path that takes us onto an open road of discovery: a deeper understanding of who we are and how we’re all connected, increased sensitivity, more love and greater freedom. So. Much. Freedom.

Indeed, I believe we all have the choice of living our lives awake or staying asleep at the wheel. And my experience has been that once you are awake, you have the ability to know anything.

Yes, you heard me—anything.

Your body will speak to you loud and clear, showing you what to do, which way to go. And as you learn to trust it, you may see as I did (and do) that doors will begin to open left and right. I’ve discovered that the perfection living within all of us knows exactly what to do; we just need to lean back and trust. It will take us deeper into our world and fill our days with a richness we could never even imagine. Even going to the store for eggs can be brimming with wonder.

The conscious inner work I’ve done is my true education, and I believe it’s the same for everyone. Everything that follows my inner work is icing on the cake. We all must learn that we cannot change people in any fundamental, important way at the level of the mind; humans just can’t grasp the most significant ideas in mental form. They must be felt with the soul. And for that to occur, silence seems to be an essential ingredient.

... once you are awake, you have the ability to know anything. Click To Tweet

It’s like this: the mind is always the last one to the party. It’s just not built for deep knowing. Only stillness gives us that ability to embody teachings. In fact, when you partner these two “activities” together, your level of understanding can become limitless. You can feel the truth in the words you hear or read.

The fact is, something so simple as silence is foreign to most of us. We weren’t raised to respect, let alone continually attune ourselves to or deepen our consciousness of silence and the infinite ocean that lies within it. Especially missing has been our regard for the natural intimacy between humans and God, which—in spite of the world’s religions’ efforts—seems to have somehow gotten lost with the passage of time. Perhaps it’s been snuffed out of us by the visionless humans who raised us, or those who have “educated” us, or those who were supposed to be our spiritual leaders. In too many cases, I think, they simply weren’t awake themselves, so how could they lead any of us to self-actualization?

My sense is that we all eventually have to take the hero’s journey… if we are to awaken and have a truly new-and-improved life. I also believe finding out exactly who we are will be the wildest trip we ever take. We are all part of something very sacred—and I mean now, including the good, the bad and the ugly. And when we rise and shine to it, we will be in awe of all of it.

… your job is to get yourself to the point that you can understand your experiences and not let them destroy you.”

You will feel bad when your dog dies, but it will not destroy you. You have become a warrior with a profound understanding of both life and death. You will suffer, but it will be on a different level. You will recognize that without the beastly, there is no ecstasy. Without the sleazy, there is no purity.

Until then, your job is to get yourself to the point that you can understand your experiences and not let them destroy you. This makes zero sense on the level of the mind, but once experienced at the heart level, deep in the sacred space of silence within you, no explanation is necessary. Once you bring a good dose of that stillness into your daily life, you take on a higher level of consciousness that allows you to grasp the whole spectrum much more readily. Soup to nuts.

“Silence is the language of God;
all else is poor translation.”

~Rumi

Theorists, psychologists, religious leaders, spiritual teachers, your parents—none of them can give you your identity. You must find out who you really are on your own. That is where cultivating inner silence through spiritual practices comes into play. Doing such introduces you to what may seem like wholly new and vast dimensions of yourself and allows you to connect with the entire cosmos… all of which may guide you to knowing that, while you may be but a mere speck of stardust in this never-ending universe, still you are an incredibly special speck, just because of the fact you’re essentially a wave upon a cosmic ocean that is entirely made up of waves!

If that’s not a cool enough reason to give this silence thing a shot, then I don’t know what is.

Valerie Gangas
Valerie Gangas
After a life-changing, 20-minute meditation, Valerie Gangas embarked on a personal journey which culminated in this blog as well as her first book, Enlightenment is Sexy. Through her writing and speaking engagements, she aims to offer some insight into the process of spiritual transformation and growth—namely, that it’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but that overall, it’s worth staying the path.

4 Comments

  1. Robert Steinberg

    Great article

    Reply
  2. Susan S

    I feel it…you write it!
    Wonderful!

    Reply
  3. C.Rajeev

    Hello….I learnt to do TM during the year 1982 and if I skip my TM session, I feel as if I lost something important. In the modern society, our mind is exposed to a variety of stimuli ( triggers) from television, real life tragedies, and many other negativities…..Doing TM is like cleansing our minds out of stress, just like we take a bath to clean our body daily……It is really great that more number of Americans and other educated global citizens have realised the importance of doing TM in the recent times….It is really an awesome trend to be appreciated…..Bye…..

    Reply

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