Mauna – Noble Silence
The power of silence. By Archana Kanade
As a child, if I was being naughty or had crossed the line of discipline, I was given the punishment of staying ‘quiet’ and being by myself. Not allowed to talk to anyone or do anything. Just be. Well, I was a child after all – so after just a few minutes of quietude, I would start getting busy, talking to myself, playing, forgetting all about the punishment. After some time, Aai (mum) would come back, show me love and all was well again!
Silence = Punishment with a reward at the end
I was about 10 years old when I heard the word ‘Mauna’ for the first time. Aai used to be pretty religious, gradually turning to spiritualism. I used to accompany her to this Aashram (sanctuary) in her home town, where she would spend hours, sometimes days in Mauna (complete silence). I would join her for Seva (selfless service) sometimes in the kitchen or serving food or just any chore that a young me could be trusted with. I was simply happy being around Aai, watching her, silently doing her Seva with so much love. Most of the people there followed Mauna too,. always so kind, happy, smiling, doing their Seva as if they were really enjoying it!
Silence = Happy, kind people
After this childhood phase, in adult life, I used ‘silence’ when sulking, giving a hard time to my then-boyfriends or just when I was cross with someone or myself.
Silence = Cruel, bitter, exhausting
After various interpretations of ‘silence’, ’Vipassana’ happened. It’s an ancient technique of meditation rediscovered by Gotama Buddha. Here I learnt about the ‘Noble Silence’ – the silence of speech, body and mind – with no form of communication, whether by gestures, sign language, written notes, etc. Through this silence, I was encouraged to go inwards – the practice of being aware of the whole body, from the top of the head to the very tip of the toes. Keeping this awareness alive throughout the entire 10-day period. Nope, not a single word for 10 whole days!
Here, I truly learnt the essence of ‘Mauna’. It’s not about forcing someone not to talk but the fact that we don’t always have to talk.
This Noble Silence brought me a sense of calm and ease in not just my body but also my mind, which was both healing and nourishing.
Noble Silence helps us practice real presence – both in the world around us and inside ourselves. Noble Silence leads to inner silence. Inner silence leads to deep listening. And when we listen deeply, we begin to understand and respond with compassion. And that’s when things change.
Instead of listening in order to talk or react, we listen in order to understand and respond.
Now when I think about that time in the Aashram, where the 10-year-old me was serving alongside these happy kind people, I now understand why I remember every moment so distinctly as if I was actually there right now. Because silence helps you to be completely present. You are 100% aware and in the moment, grasping, soaking in everything. The joy that I felt then fills my heart even today as if I am that 10-year-old, feeling so light and joyful and without a care in the world!
That’s the power of Noble Silence, that we as adults forget to experience, appreciate and truly take advantage of. It provides us with the opportunity to simply watch, to observe the activity of the mind without getting involved in its antics.
- When was the last time, you ate in silence, appreciating what you ate, looking at the food, feeling the texture, smelling the aromas, tasting it deeply?
- When was the last time you went for a walk in nature, without music, a distracted mind or chattering with a mate?
- When was the last time you were engrossed doing something as simple as cooking, without having to remember if you added salt or not?
The simple act of practicing Mauna could change the way we live, welcoming peace and healing in our lives, to better our relationship with others and mainly with ourselves.
There are countless benefits of practising Mauna, that only you can experience for yourself.
A few of those are:
- The opportunity to reflect, evaluate, transform
- Enhanced mindfulness and awareness of body and mind
- Control over thoughts and speech
- Inner peace
- Emotional management
- Energy conservation
- Improved concentration
- Enhanced creativity
- Lowering blood pressure
- Calming racing thoughts
- Reducing cortisol
- Improving insomnia
Plus many many more!
"Bring your mind to noble silence. Unify your mind in the noble silence. Concentrate your mind in noble silence. Enter into rapture and pleasure born of silence derived of concentration and awareness that is free from thought and fabrication." – Gotama Buddha
Namaste, I am Archana - a certified Yoga teacher, Ayurveda Practitioner & a mind-body wellbeing advocate.
Having learnt traditional Yoga from schools in Mumbai & Mysore (India) - I follow the traditions & wisdom where:
(a) alignment & technique are most crucial for a safe & strong physical practice
(b) Yoga should be practiced in harmony of the body, breath & mind &
(c) True Yoga Happens Beyond The Mat!
My aim is to help people find balance & feel great, both in body and mind.