Is my peace a deafening silence?
Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
When I contemplate the beauty of some scenery in a very calm and aware manner, or when I am very attentive during a conversation, without reacting by saying anything or thinking of a response, there is silence within me. Is that true? At that moment do I feel peace? Do I feel that my body is relaxed? Do I feel alive and grateful?
It may be that after a few seconds of this calm contemplation, my mind starts to chatter once more, making judgements about what I see, recalling other beautiful or desolate landscapes that I have seen before and, at that moment, I talk about that to those around me. Am I contemplating now?
What difference is there between the two different states above? During the first moment – contemplation – was I thinking or judging the landscape? No.
There was no thought in my head. There was just calm attention towards what was there. There was no urge towards anything other than what was there: me observing the scenery. Was there silence within you? Yes. During the second moment – I am thinking about this landscape and remembering others- am I thinking, assessing or judging? Of course I am. Is there silence within me? Is there the same peace as in the previous state? No.
It appears that the constant involuntary activity of thinking removes from peace. Thoughts about the landscape are not the landscape. When we are not calmly aware of what exists, peace vanishes, inner silence disappears and, with it, a certain unease returns.
I suggest that you observe throughout the day how you live – do I live by contemplating what is there or do I live by thinking about any old thing whether it is important or trivial.
Do I observe reality as it presents itself or do I think, judge, assess and interpret everything? How do these two activities make me feel?
It is not about struggling not to think, that would be a very savage approach for me to take. I am able to notice that I am doing it, let it pass, create a healthy inner silence and focus on what exists: my work, washing the dishes, ironing clothes, walking home…anything.
We do many things in our lives. I see that many people carry out activities in order to feel well. For example, I see that many people go to the gym and toil away at their exercises. I wonder if they consider the way their body moves or if they are just thrashing it with some idea in mind, like being more attractive or looking younger for some reason. I see others who walk tirelessly for miles along the beach and I wonder if they just do it because the doctor recommended it or if they contemplate the beauty of the moment and the movement of their bodies. It seems to me that the majority do it like automata with the aim of fleeing from illness or from a premature death, following doctor’s orders.
Experiencing the silence, being calmly aware of what exists, requires an intention on our part, and this is the only source of peace. I suggest that you do it whenever you remember, observe in silence, leaving judgements on one side, like someone who is waiting for something without anxiety. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Only judgements tell you that something is pleasant or ugly and take you away from peace. Reflect. Only you can experience the beauty that comes from inner silence. And that can be now. There is no other now!