FOTM OCTOBER 2019
It is estimated that the average person speaks 16,000 words per day. Wow. That’s a lot of talking! How many of these words are spoken with intention, sincerity and compassion? What might our sadhana look like if we took a vow of silence from time to time? For 11 years this was the daily practice of Swāmī Nirmalānanda (Sharon and David’s first guru); he didn’t speak a word. Instead, during his time as a Maunī, the “Anarchist Swāmī” channelled the energy he saved from speaking into letter writing; spreading his message of peace and non-violence to political leaders all over the world.
Mauna is a sacred practice of limiting one’s speech; of being intentionally silent, a discipline through which spiritual experiences can arise, typically redults in the quieting of the mind, and an increased receptivity towards sound. Subsequently, like the still water of a lake that reflects things as they are, the calming effect of silence helps us to see things more clearly, and therefore, be in deeper connection with ourselves and those around us.
If we choose to practice Mauna, we may begin with simply not talking. After some time, the practice may evolve into abstinence from reading, writing, and making eye contact with others; eventually leading into a practice of minimal, but mindful, activity. During this process, a few patterns usually emerge. First you might notice your tendency to grasp for distractions – like your desire to check your phone, pick up a book, or even drown out the ‘silence’ with music. Before acting on these impulses, can you notice these urges? The reason these desires are amplified during Mauna is because our Citta Vṛtti (whirling mental activity) suddenly makes itself known.