When I first read that the words listen and silent have the same letters, it made me pause and reflect. At first I thought, “How cool is that?” Then with further contemplation, I realized that they truly go hand-in-hand with one another.
In order to listen, we must become silent; to become silent, we must quiet our minds and listen. Simply amazing! Isn’t that what meditation is all about? Whether we are practicing a moving meditation; taking moments of stillness within; or connecting with Mother Earth while we garden or hike outside. It’s within those moments of listening and being silent that we can connect and open up to who we truly are.
It reminds me of the quote by Eckhart Tolle, “We are not our thoughts, we are the awareness behind our thoughts.” When we realize this awareness, we give insight to why and how they continue to arise. How do we do that? By listening and being silent. Sounds so simple in theory; but at times seems complex to practice.
Which is why I love practicing the art of T’ai Chi and Qigong. They give me the opportunity to practice listening. And, when I say listening, I also mean feeling, “How do I feel?” Listening to our bodies can be very profound. When was the last time you just sat and felt your body breathe in and out? I call this conscious breathing. Simple. Breathe in, breathe out; then notice and feel. [Stop reading now and do it yourself. Take three conscious breaths from your belly—the lower tan tien—and notice how you feel.] There is no right or wrong answer, remember awareness is the key.
These two practices also allow me to quiet the mind and be silent. I am silent while I move my body through space with mindful movement, and while I sit on my cushion. But, let’s be honest, my mind is not completely silent, thoughts do come up. Which is totally natural, but when I reconnect with my breath, my thoughts become less. One of the insights, I continue to learn from T’ai Chi, is to allow your thoughts to come and go like clouds. No attachments, no trying to change or judge thoughts… just notice and let go. […another concept that sounds simple in theory] I do know from own experience, the more I practice, the more silence there is between my thoughts. Which in itself, is pretty amazing.
So, I say to you, just simply practice—isn’t that the way with most things?
May you continue to enjoy the practice in your life, while remembering you are the Awareness.