The first principle of yoga is ahimsa, non-harming, kindness. The second is satya, truth. A day of silence is big commitment, a gift of inner attention and space. Notice and keep letting go of any expectations and attachment to how it might go. This is a practice of silence and, equally important, of kindness and compassion, acceptance and resting. We are participating in an experiment and observing the results. This can be a rich way to get to know ourselves.
In our lives and in any practice, we acknowledge and work through the multiple layers of our experience as humans. We begin with relaxing the most solidly manifest, our physical body. We then work with breath and energy, activity in the thought stream, the higher intuitive layer of the mind, and the space in which all of this is arising or manifesting and being seen.
Before we begin:
- Pratyahara is a practice of withdrawing the mind from the senses. This is easier if you are not continually exposed to wildly stimulating environments. Notice your physical, energetic and thought responses to various situations and events. Consider taking a break from social media and the news for a few days to allow your system a rest and the energy of thought to slow and subside.
- Prepare your practice space to be conducive to silence. Ideally this is a place where you can be alone or with others doing the practice and where you have access to the outdoors at points during the day. It is helpful if it is an appropriate temperature, clean and uncluttered.
- If there will be noise, you might wear noise-cancelling headphones to block out sounds. Depending on your circumstance, you could let others know what you are doing and ask for their co-operation. It will look different for everyone and it is all fine. We can work with what we have. Work with conducive, not perfect.
- Be as well rested as possible so you can remain alert during the practices
- Eat a light meal the night before and during the day of silence
- Bathe or wash prior to beginning and wear clean clothes
Over the next several days leading up to Saturday, tune in and acknowledge your commitment and your intention to practice silence that day. You might plan on a full day, waking up in silence and extending the time through to the next morning. You might have other commitments and people and plan to join for an hour or two. It’s all good. Just like you would look forward with pleasure to seeing a dear friend on Saturday, allow yourself to bring your practice of silence to mind this week.