Silence please!
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We constantly live in a noisy world today. All the time we hear traffic snarls, blaring sirens, and the churning of machines. There are beeps of incoming messages on smartphones and laptops and overly loud music on personal stereos. Even the places like bookstores, cafes, movie halls or libraries, once considered havens of silence are not immune to the incessant ringing, roaring, buzzing, or clicking. In such a scenario, it’s difficult to imagine a work place that is all calm and peaceful. But the question we need to ask is what and who can make a working environment peaceful. The answer is‘calmer the minds, quieter the working environment’.
Delhi-based Priya Sharma, an IT professional, has been going to Cha Bar in Connaught Place which is a library-cum-café. “I have been frequenting this café ever since I took up my job. After a noise-filled day, this place gives me a sense of calm and I experience a deep silence here. All you have to do is sit in a corner with a book, whether you read it or not” says Priya. But there are also people out there who find complete silence unsettling and uncomfortable, which is a side effect of living in a clamoured world.
It is commonly noticed that silence is observed with so much of planning and with an ordinance on some occasions like, many countries observe a minute of silence after a tragic event. On November 11th, many countries observe a two-minute silence to remember those who have died in World Wars. During the moment of silence, people often bow their heads, remove their hats, and do not speak or move. The tradition was started in 1919 exactly one year after the end of World War I. In India, every year on January 30th on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, two minutes of silence is observed at 11 am throughout the country in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and those who were martyred in India’s freedom struggle. All movement is stopped throughout the country during the two minutes. On the other hand, it is also a mark of punishment during which silence is imposed on someone, making silence seem so awkward. But let us ponder, where is the silence during such moments? Is the mere absence of noise known as silence? Even if so, the physical noise might be getting subsided, but what about our minds, are they silent too? In this noisy, restless, and bewildering age there is a great need for the silence of the mind.
Silence is often equated with doing nothing or with an idle mind which is further equated with a devil’s workshop. Therefore, silence is not valued and since it is not valued, it is not developed, either. But Indian tradition and spiritual seekers have long intuitively grasped the value of silence reflecting in sayings such as, “Speech is silver, silence is golden”. On a full moon day in May, when Buddha got enlightened, he kept silent for a long time. Despite the insistence of angels to speak something at least, he remained silent proving that words cannot capture existence, but silence can. When Jesus was asked to prove, “Are you the son of God?” he kept silent. Martin Farquhar Tupper, a 19th century English poet and philosopher too understood the value of silence and wrote, “Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.”
There’s no denying the fact that it’s not easy to be calm when there’s chaos all around you. Workplace stress has never been higher than today. There are many situations at the work place during the course of a day that can make us lose our cool: getting into an argument, making a mistake in plain view, having to listen to criticism, dealing with bad news or facing a looming project deadline with everyone involved moving way too slowly,growing complexity of most industries and even in relations, and many more. Whatever the reason, it’s never been tougher to stay calm at work and still excel. But staying stressed at the workplace is no solution, either.To survive and excel, we need to find ways to deal with pressure and uncertainty. There are several scientific studies done that show the deep connection between staying calm and productivity. Calmness of the mind is one of the beautiful and necessarycondition for the jewels of wisdom to settle. It is said that the more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. In late 1939 after the outbreak of World War II, the British government designed a number of morale boosting posters preempting the eventual mass bombings of the United Kingdom. One such poster read, “Keep Calm and Carry On”. That’s what we need to do today when our inner and outer worlds are in perpetual state of war.
In a world where so many are overwhelmed with everything there is to do, that silent pause is critical for life, health, relations and work efficiency. Neurophysiological research suggests that the United States annually loses a million years of healthy life because of noise. Scientists conducting research on the health effects of noise actually stumbled on a surprise truth – silence is more than just the lack of noise pollution. It’s an active good that has profound positive effects on us physiologically and psychologically. Psychotherapists talk of the creative value of silence in their practices as doperhaps many musical composers and practitioners do. We need silence and stillness to become our true selves and to be truly happy.
Chetan Godbole from Mumbai realized that observing silence for a day ignites his creativity. “When I want to create new work, I go into silence for full 24 hours. Free from the chatter of the world, my mind creates thousand ideas and one of them clicks definitely”. Well-known writer Kafka once described his creative process “Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.” But why and how does it happen? Silence enables us to listen to our inner voice and to detect our unique methods of thinking. It gives us a chance to understand our selves better. Intellectuals, thinkers, poetry writers, inventors and creators in all fields always seek absolute silence and quiet environment so that they could work comfortably and get inspiration. Imagination also springs from silence. “Silence and quiet are to an artist, an author or inventor etc, what fertilizer is to crops” writes Cuckson.
Research is showing that a regular meditation practice of just 10 minutes each day can bring about amazing and noticeable differences in individuals, teams and overall business success. Often meditation is understood as some kind of tough practice where you need to close your eyes and sit for long hours in one position without thinking. Butmeditation means awareness. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. Watching your breath is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation. A Tibetan Lama was being monitored on a brain scan machine by a scientist wishing to test physiological functions during deep meditation. The scientist said – “Very good Sir. The machine shows that you are able to go very deep in brain relaxation, and that validates your meditation”. “No”, said the Lama, “This (pointing to his brain) validates the machine!”
Various types of meditation are in vogue today. Some schools only teach concentration techniques, some relaxation, and others teach free form contemplative activities like just sitting and awaiting absorption. With regular practice of a balanced series of techniques, the energy of the body and mind can be liberated and the quality of consciousness can be expanded. This is not a subjective claim but is now being investigated by the scientists and being shown by an empirical fact.
Rajyog Mediation,practised at the Brahma KumarisWorld Spiritual University, is a form of meditation that is performed without rituals or mantras and can be practiced anywhere at any time. Rajyoga word has been derived from ‘raja’ meaning king and ‘yoga’ meaning union. This union is mainly explored at 3 levels- the union of the self with the self which is a Soul (spiritual energy), between self and Supreme Soul (ocean of spiritual energy) and then between other Souls.The practice of Rajyog Mediationaims to impart king-like qualities of confidence, better awareness, good decision- making skills and independence.With its regular practice overall well-being is maximized and rapid stress reduction takes place. Also, Rajyog meditation increases productivity. It also helps de-escalate tense circumstances because it enhances creative problem-solving skills and improves communication.
Anxious thoughts can be overwhelming making it difficult to make decisions and take action to deal with whatever issue bothers you. Anxiety also leads to over thinking making you even more anxious. Rajyog actually teaches you how to give your thoughts a right direction.Stop being fused with your thoughts. Think of your thoughts passing through your mind as moving objects on a conveyer belt, from which you have to choose the one appropriate for you, rather than the objective truth about a situation. Our brains are hypersensitive to threat and danger because this kept our ancestors alive in the wild. Some of your thoughts may just be automatic conditioned reactions generated by a brain that is oriented to survival. Choose whether or not to believe these thoughts, rather than just accepting them.
Secondly, see what type of thought you are having, rather than paying attention to its content. Watch your thoughts and when you notice a judgment (e.g., how good or bad the situation is), then label it as ‘judging’. If you notice a worry (e.g., that you will be criticized for your decision in a meeting) label it as ‘worrying’. If you are criticizing yourself, label it as ‘criticizing’. This gets you away from the literal content of your thoughts and gives you more awareness of your mental processes. Do you want to be spending your time judging and worrying? Ask your intellect, if there are less judgmental or worried ways to see the situation. Sometimes most of us focus too narrowly on the threatening aspects of a situation, rather than seeing the whole picture. It happens when anxiety makes our minds contract and focus on the immediate threat without considering the broader context. Always check if the situation really is as important as your anxiety says it is? Will you still care about this problem in 5 or 10 years? If not, then ease up on the worry.Also think if the circumstances, or your knowledge and coping abilities, have changed since the last time. As an adult, you have more choice about whom to associate with and more ability to identify, preempt, or leave a bad situation than when you were a child or teenager.
Rajyog Mediation also helps you to stay in the present and not wander between the past and the future. Staying in the present means focusing on your present thoughts and tasks making your tasks finish before the round of the clock. It also makes us more aware and cautious of our feelings rather than avoiding them. Feelings are momentary. Rather than feeling helpless or trying to distract yourself, you may realize that they are not going to kill you and that they will eventually pass. Watching feelings rise and fall in your mind, gives you a sense of them as transient experiences, rather than as who you are in essence. With the help of Rajyog Meditation, you are able to lift the veil of self-deception which subsequently goes a long way towards getting you focused on the right track, which is –the track of self-realization.
Having your staff or employees to spend moments of silence during their workday could be the key to turning your business or performance around in many more ways than just getting a little peace and quiet. But let’s admit that like any habit, to bring about this change takes time and effort. Therefore, you may likely be uncomfortable for a while. It takes time to change your brain pathways and to have other people notice you are different and behave differently towards you. Like losing a lot of weight, you have to work hard for a long time before seeing noticeable results. But don’t just give up.
Besides time and effort, it also needs the power to bring about any change in the thinking pattern. In Rajyog meditation you get the power from the Supreme Soul to change your thoughts and behaviour. It’s a silent and the most effective way to get the powers and bring about a change in yourself and others as well. With powers bestowed upon you from Him, you no longer avoid uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, or situations by zoning out, not showing up, addictions, anger, or procrastinating.

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