Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Ultimate Emotional Spring Cleaning Technique

This is my final post on Emotional Spring Cleaning, and I've saved the BEST for last. This is the ultimate technique to facilitate taking out the garbage -- deep-cleaning -- scrubbing and scouring OUT that build-up and back-up of undigested, unprocessed emotions, while at the same time reorienting us completely in relationship to much of the behavior that causes the problems to begin with.

It's simple to do. But not easy.

It can be summed up succinctly in two words: Be Quiet.

Stop talking.

Stop talking out loud.

To others. To yourself.

For extended periods of time.

Until you're completely comfortable with your own silence.

Until you find value in it.

Until you find solace in it.

Until it slips up behind you and envelopes you in an embrace so light and so deep that you Laugh Out Loud, startled by its beauty. And then continue to chuckle silently for the rest of your . . . life?

Most of us are absolutely convinced of the absolute imperative of speaking our minds out loud. Think it, say it. Feel it, share it. It hardly ever occurs to us before we open our mouths that what we are about to say may not be either significant or needed. We live in the realm of stream of consciousness, with no filter, no editor, no pause before pushing the "send" button.

We make alot of sounds. Alot of noise. Alot of chatter and clatter that just -- Is Not Necessary. And by filling up the airwaves, space, time, our minds and the minds of others with so much that is superficial -- we block our own inner access to spaces and places and voices that have the ability to give us an entirely new perspective on ourselves, our lives, our reason for being.

Many spiritual traditions and yoga lineages include the practice of mouna, or silence, as part of their path to expanding consciousness and raising awareness. Countless "saints and sages through all the ages" have emphasized the importance of being still, watching, listening, observing from a place of quiet in order to mature as spiritual human beings (or as human spiritual beings). 

When you first begin working with the practice of deliberate silence you may be surprised by how challenging it is. 

You might decide to spend the morning of a day off not speaking.

You might catch yourself opening your mouth dozens of times to say something to the person you live with. And it might be difficult to stop with the words unspoken and -- keep quiet.

At first you might feel frustrated and wonder, "How are we ever going to manage if I can't tell him this??" Convinced of the importance of what you have to say, you -- no, you don't: no texting. No emails. No writing or printing or pantomime. 

And don't answer the phone.

As a matter of fact, turn your phone off. No rings, no beeps, no alarms, no vibration. Turn it face down so that you begin to break the unconscious habit of scrolling down its screen.

"I thought this was about being quiet." 

Oh -- but it IS. Turn down the volume on the input. Turn down the input. Turn off the input. All of it. Stop feeding your monkey mind. Cut off the supply chain and give your mind the opportunity to clean out without continually adding to the buildup.

In the beginning you can cut yourself some slack if you need to -- within parameters. You can do some reading: the newspaper, a book, a magazine. You can read a specific something on a computer, but don't sit in front of the screen and surf. Or scroll. If you have a particular task to accomplish, stay within those boundaries and put a time limit on it.

Want to watch a movie? Fine, in the beginning. But if you watch with someone, don't discuss it. No comments. No reviews. No plot dissection.

You may find it easier to avoid these kinds of activities altogether during your periods of mouna. It may be too hard to consciously change so many ingrained habit patterns at once.

Remember: All of the information you take in aggravates the compulsion to speak out. It agitates your surface mind and makes you less able to hear your deeper mind, your deeper self, and to settle into a place of inner peace and calm. Finding that place of inner peace and calm will enable you to LET GO of emotional states that aren't good for your health and well-being. 

Here are some thoughts on mouna from the yoga tradition, as well as some inspiring poetry on the beauty of silence.

Mouna ~ Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

The word mouna has two meanings. The first is silence. Learning to be silent is a practice of pratyahara. Speech, or shabda as it is known in Sanskrit, is an expression of prana shakti or pranic force. A lot of energy is wasted in speech. If you analyze what you say during the day, you will understand that very little speech is constructive or worthwhile. The more you speak the more pranic energy you lose; the less you speak the more pranic energy you conserve. We all like to chat but there is no awareness, no concept, of words being related with prana or energy. If you have to give a lecture for one hour continuously, you feel tired afterwards. Why? You only spoke, you did no physical exercise, yet you feel tired. This is due to the loss of pranic energy. So if you can control your speech, you retain the pranic energy.

Mouna is also important during meal times in order to conserve and direct the pranic energy to fulfil the digestive function. If you can practice absolute mouna when you eat, you will notice that your digestion improves. You can experiment. Try a month of silence, not just one or two days, during meals and observe how well your digestive system functions. Then go back to your regular habit of chatting and see how your system is affected. Mouna is a rule in the ashram. It is very difficult to follow, but those who can benefit from it greatly. For those who can't, the loss is theirs.

The second meaning of mouna is measurement. If you speak measured words then they have power. Mouna also represents a state of mental awareness. Before speaking you remove the chaff which surrounds the words and only say what is required. Then, in the course of time, speech will become powerful.

Antar Mouna “Inner Silence Meditation”

By maintaining awareness of one’s internal environment, thoughts, emotional reactions etc, one can speed up one’s personal evolution to the utmost degree.” Swami Satyananda

The Sanskrit word “mouna” means “silence” and “antar” means “inner”, therefore the English name for this practice is “inner silence”. In our daily life, we are almost always externalised, relating to life with the five senses. The practice of Antar Mouna gradually leads the practitioner inwards. The essence of the technique is acceptance and respect for the mind, and the ability to remain an impartial witness to all its manifestations. It will make one understand the workings of one’s own rational and irrational mind. Antar Mouna trains the awareness process and gradually helps to remove samskaras, as we become aware of the different thoughts, without attaching to them. Antar Mouna is so useful because the witnessing attitude can be extended into each an every activity, circumstance, challenge and joy that arises. It is a 24 hour, 7 day a week practice.

When practiced many times daily, this witnessing process becomes an automatic occurrence continuing by itself and showing you who you are, what you are doing here and where you are going. It can truly be said that in this practice through the awareness of inner noise you will come to know the voice of silence, the golden sound that sings of eternity.” 
Swami Satyananda ~ Meditations from the Tantras

Stages of Antar Mouna

There are 5 stages of Antar Mouna. The first three are foundational and should be perfected before going on to the next stages.

  1. Awareness of external stimuli – sensory perceptions (sound, touch, taste, smell) with the attitude of a witness
  2. Awareness of spontaneous thought process – with the attitude of a witness
  3. Creation and disposal of thoughts at will – create and observe a thought with the attitude of a witness, and then dispose of it at will.
  4. Awareness and disposal of spontaneous thoughts – observe and catch the underground thoughts. Stay with the thought and then throw it away consciously.
  5. Awareness of inner space – become aware of the colouless and formless space of chidakash, the inner space of your psyche. Be alert. If thoughts come dispose of them immediately; do not allow the thought to manifest. Stage 5 is about maintaining thoughtlessness. This is the real state of inner silence.

"You will experience how silence creates a unique and singular state of unbounded qualities. Silence transcends all possible physical and nonphysical frontiers. It travels to every country and human and
natural environments. It is in silence where we embrace activity. There is no activity that results from activity. Therefore, it is essential to extend our entire existence to the self realization of the fullness of silence. It is the fullness of silence that creates the conditions for inner peace."
~ Author Unknown


"Build your inner environment. Practice Silence! I remember the wonderful discipline of the Great Ones. When we used to talk and chatter, they would say: 'Go back into your inner castle.' It was very hard to comprehend then, but now I understand the way of peace."
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know.
Close the mouth. Shut the door. Blunt the sharpness.
Untie the tangles. Soften the light.
Become one with the dusty world.
This is called profound identification.

~ Lao Tzu


those who study
foam and flotsam
near the edge
have purposes.
and they’ll
explain them at length.

those who look out to sea
become the sea
and they can’t speak about that.

on the beach
there’s desire-singing and rage-ranting,
the elaborate language-dance
of personality,
but in the waves
and underneath
there’s no volition,
no hypocrisy,
just love
forming and unfolding.

And From Rumi:

In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.


This is how it always is 
when I finish a poem. 

A great silence comes over me, 
and I wonder why I ever thought 
to use language.


Don't try to steer the boat. 
Don't open shop for yourself. Listen. Keep silent. 
You are not God's mouthpiece. Try to be an ear, 
And if you do speak, ask for explanations.


No more words. 
In the name of this place we drink in with our breathing, 
stay quiet like a flower. 
So the nightbirds will start singing.

There is a way between voice and presence, where information flows. 
In disciplined silence it opens; with wandering talk it closes.


Let silence take you to the core of life.

To read the first post in this series on Emotional Spring Cleaning, click HERE.

AND my good friend, sister yogini and holistic health/lifestyle coach Balprem Kaur/Laura Kalinski has been posting at The Nourishing Soul on Spring Cleaning from a physical health point of view. Read us in tandem for practical ways to bring Spring into your body and soul. Balprem's final post today is on Juice Cleansing -- click HERE to read it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day

"Mingyur Rinpoche With the Blue Sky"

Mingyur Rinpoche Hiking in the Mountains

Mingyur Rinpoche is currently on an extended solitary retreat in the Himalayas. In truth, no one knows exactly where he is. In the tradition of the great meditation masters of times past, he is wandering freely with no fixed plan or agenda. His only companions are an unswerving commitment to the path of awakening and a heartfelt desire to benefit others. Throughout this period, he will likely be spending his time meditating in caves and hermitages in remote places.

"While I have experienced both happiness and suffering, the most important thing is that a deep and heartfelt sense of certainty has arisen in the depths of my being, such that no matter what happens, I know that the true nature of these experiences, their very essence, is that of timeless awareness and vast compassion."

Mingyur Rinpoche Sitting in a Retreat Cave

"While all beings have great wisdom and compassion, this is not always apparent. This is simply because they have not recognized what they already have. Thus, aside from merely recognizing our own true nature, there isn’t the slightest thing to meditate on. Recognizing the importance of this, I have passed my days feeling joyful and content, wandering through the mountains and valleys and staying here and there. From my heart, I sincerely encourage all of you to practice diligently in this manner as well."

Mingyur Rinpoche With the Blue Sky

Read the complete article here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Cherish It All the More

Barbara Brotman has a wonderful column in today's Chicago Tribune titled, "The Speedy Charm of a Chicago Spring".

"The brevity of spring's wonders make them even more alluring. Would forsythia blossoms be as remarkable if they lasted all summer instead of being a brief, annual treat? Would the spring green color of new leaves be as treasured if it lasted beyond spring?

"Spring is a pop-up nature store, an excellent show with a limited run. We cherish it all the more because we know how briefly it will last."

You can read the entire piece here.

And maybe take an amble down your street today.