Listening to God is possible only in silence: the more our emotions, the less we can we hear Him; the more our thoughts, the less our divine perceptions are; and more our physical movements, the less it is possible to listen to Him.
In daily life the same principle of silence holds true: worries, tension, waves of emotion, rushing about restlessly to meet many deadlines…the list goes on!
All these make it impossible to feel God Who communicates in silence – with a whisper, not with a shout.
Hence it helps to train this “Silence muscle” by taking time off to be on our own. Since we all have our worldly roles and duties, the only way to strengthen our silence muscle is by having short times in seclusion (if longer one don’t work, yet). Once this muscle is strong we will be able to carry that silence into our daily lives as well.
My experience of a silent retreat
Recently some of us had gathered for a 24 hour silent retreat. We began with a group meditation and getting our energies together. We set aside our electronic gadgets as expected in such retreats, and decided to harness support from reading, journaling, japa and tuning into God & the Masters. More than that, we were told to be more inward by refraining from eye contact & the need to smile and engage outwardly with the rest of the group. Thus there was no pressure of social obligation and we could tune into ourselves more deeply.
Appears easy? BUT what of the monkey mind that is part of ourselves! The outer silence took me towards an inner jumble of thoughts, of the many life challenges; each seeming to push for being the most important.
Post-lunch I began to write. Fumbling for words initially — soon there was a flow that seemed to wash away some of the clouds of confusion I had been battling with. Surely there wasn’t an instant answer but it forced me to reflect on my own pattern. Writing helped me increase my awareness of my deeper self.
As I went to bed that night I was filled with a sense of acceptance of my delusions & feeling the Guru’s love. The next morning we were to wind up after meditation & breakfast and as we sat at the closing circle sharing, I felt the strong need to have more of the silent time – 24 hours wasn’t enough as I had just begun to dip within and now I needed to actually dive in.
Spend time alone with God
When a friend of mine heard I was joining this silent retreat she questioned if I could do it since I am basically a very interactive & chatty person. I told my friend that that was the challenge I am accepting and that my faith in master would guide me.
I am very grateful for the blessings that helped me take this inward time that set the first step rolling for strengthening my Silence Muscle. I realize it is no wonder that Paramhansa Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda recommended long meditations & seclusion. To further support, the leaders at Ananda keep urging the devotees to take time in seclusion.
I now hold close to my heart these words of Paramhansa Yogananda: “Be Still — Stillness is God.”