Reflections on quiet

“The only person who truly knows your innermost thoughts is yourself.” And even that is a very optimistic view.

Back when I first started to experiment with the Holosync Solution, I briefly mentioned something important: If this could make people sit down and shut up for an hour each day, it would lead to rapid personal growth regardless of whether the brainwave entertainment actually worked.

This is not to say that I don’t believe the brainwave entrainment works. It probably does, at least part of it. And it probably does have health benefits beyond what you could get by just staring at the wall for an hour each day. But the fact remains that staring at the wall for an hour would indeed be an improvement for most people. Or at least half an hour, but if you really want far-reaching changes in your life, why not go the whole hog and just sit there for an hour.

This may seem like an absurd thing to do. And for all I know, it may be better to play Bach for an hour each day. I keep hearing good thing about Bach, although he is a mite too subtle and refined for a barbarian like me. ^_^ But the thing is, each of us has a profound need to sit down and shut up, if at all possible. And it is a need we usually repress at all costs until our health and even life itself is in danger.

There are different levels of quiet. What we today call meditation (and which the monks of old called contemplation) is a much deeper quiet than just sitting there and shutting up. There are also different levels of meditation. But we have to start somewhere, right? And the first thing we need to do is shut up.

Even if we shut our mouth, even if we go sit down in a room by ourselves and don’t turn on the TV, or the radio, or the stereo, or the computer… even if we just sit there and say nothing, that does not mean we really shut up. Our mouth shuts down, but the brain keeps making talk as if we were not alone.

Actually not all people have that particular brain that talks incessantly. Some think in images or even in music by default. But it is extremely common that our thoughts take the form of a flow of words.  This inner monologue (or in some cases dialogue or more!) tends to go on and on when we are alone.

In meditation we make a distraction of sorts, by binding our mind to a mantra or some other symbol. This serves as an anchor for the mind, so that we can quickly jump back to that point of stillness when we realize we have been carried away on the stream of consciousness. It is like a teleport spell that takes you back to the anchor in a moment. No need to flail and get upset or disappointed or even surprised that an important person like me got carried away by random thoughts. Just jump back to the point of quiet and start again.

But – at least at the outset – the truth is that this inner silence is not really what we are aiming for. I mean, each of us is aiming for it consciously, I suppose. But not having it is an important lesson in itself. By seeking the stillness inside, we become aware of the mind-chatter, the inner talk show, the often inane babble that it all comes down to when there is nothing more to say and the mind just can’t shut up.

If you never sit down and try to shut down your thoughts, if you just distract yourself until you cannot stay awake any longer, you can delude yourself. You can think that you are this particular person, “I”, who has some clearly defined personality traits and is pretty much the same person at all times, and simply creates thoughts by the amazing power of your brain. You don’t need to wonder what to think, say or do: By virtue of simply being you, it all pops into your head when you need it.

Once you become quiet enough to listen to your own thoughts, you will realize that no, you are not that unified thing, like a pearl that is whole and looking the same from all angles. Rather, your mind is like a flock of sheep, or a kindergarten with overly excited children squabbling and laughing and crying and doing random things, talking incessantly and mostly about useless stuff. But you have to be still enough to observe yourself to find out these things.

Is that really useful to know? Yes, it really is. If you don’t know at least roughly what you are, you are deluding yourself. You will make a history, a narrative, that is actually, factually wrong. And you will be surprised over and over by things inside yourself:  Feelings, irrational impulses, sudden urges, subtle tendencies. Among all these, you are blown off course again and again and cannot understand why.

But even if not, you really need that quiet. For your body to relax, for your mind to defragment itself and settle down. For your thoughts to stop flapping their wings quite so vigorously. And to become able to fall asleep without chemicals and without being so exhausted that you cannot wake up in the morning without (more) chemicals.

So if you haven’t already, please take some time to sit down and just shut up for some minutes. Your future self will thank you.