Silence of the mind

chattering_crowsI had an experience of mind-silence in a crowded tex-mex restaurant waiting for a large slice of beef. This happened in august 2011. It was a Saturday evening and the restaurant was jam packed with customers. You cannot keep drinking waiting for your food. So I got quite impatient. Suddenly and without a warning my mind changed from impatience to wandering off. Zapp! Mind gone. I kept watching the interesting wall paintings and photographs of Indian Chiefs and American Heroes of Rock and Roll, and I realized that I was completely happy and thoughtless. This lingered on long for several minutes. Our food came, and it tasted great. The evening was fantastic.

After this experience I could return to this silent place in my head at will. But it slowly faded. Probably because I didn’t practice. Moreover, half a year later, I had an ‘existential crisis’ to tackle. And I forgot to go to that place altogether. Perhaps silence and crisis were related. In retrospect I have to admit that they probably were, but I had no clue at that moment.

I realize these days that I’ve been meditating often during the past 10 years without giving it the label meditation. I often meditated on silence while in public transport. It is easier when there is a landscape flashing by accompanied by repetitive noise. Mind has some images to process and  doesn’t have to keep itself busy creating thoughts or coming forward with opinions.
When facing a white wall, or with closed eyes, mind wants to get rid of boredom. In my case it is silent in the beginning often for at least a minute, but then it comes up with a to do list. When silenced by watching the thoughts it stops 3 or 4 seconds, then tries another item on the to do list. This can continue quite a long time till the practice ends (I don’t set a timer – it never takes longer than 30 minutes, often just 10).

It still happens that the silence comes all by itself. Then it is much stronger. I guess that silence cannot be forced, it is more like thoughts evaporating without any effort, when that happens. Effort is counterproductive.

25 thoughts on “Silence of the mind

  1. Silence and crisis are related. Most definitely. I have had my most spiritual experiences in crisis. Why do we have to wait until we hit a new low to find the path to silence, God, higher consciousness, prayer– whatever term you use. Probably not all equivalent but related.

    • A crisis tears down the house we had built, our protection against the storms of life. When the house is torn down, we have to work on it. This is the positive power of a crisis. Then we are open for some time, then find new security and close again. Openness means being connected to whatever silence brings: nature, Nature, god and God, universe and Universe, thought and Silence.

    • That are the moments of awe that make us speechless, literally, and also thoughtless. Art, Music, also can have that effect. So everybody has this experience. Learning to listen to mind and its thoughts, what is often called meditation, apparently is key to make these moments last a little longer.

  2. “It still happens that the silence comes all by itself. Then it is much stronger. I guess that silence cannot be forced, it is more like thoughts evaporating without any effort, when that happens. Effort is counterproductive.” This is my experience – and that I can sit to let thoughts subside, but the deeper Silence, connecting with “the Other” – as Krishnamurti call i- happens uninvited and I open up to it when it shows up. Thanks for your report!

    • Thank you for your insightful comment. On your recommendation I started reading K. – bits and pieces. His approach is very familiar to say the least. Like talking to my grandfather who told me not to believe but to find out everything by yourself.

      • I am happy to hear that. I spent many years in Germany and there learned to love the poetry of Bertolt Brecht – and I am reminded of one line now: “Wenn du es nicht weiss, dann weisst du es nicht!” – The German sentence structure gives it the flavor, but the meaning is very succinct: If YOU don’t know it, then you don’t KNOW it.
        My wife calls me “The doubting Thomas” because I won’t accept anything just because some “credible source” says it…


  3. Isn’t it funny how these things happen when we least expect them. Great to read about your experience. I was waiting for you to post it since you mentioned it yesterday. Thanks 🙂

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