March 31, 2011

24 Hours of Silence.

Photo: Sarah G

A recent personal movement to walk the talk has quickly escalated into a hot mess of inner spiritual outbursts. Physically manifesting this week is item number three of my previous post, 11 Things You Can Do To Help Japan—take a vow of silence for 24 hours. Here’s how it went down.

Hours 1-4: A morning like none other.

Glowing rays of glorious morning sunlight spread slowly throughout the bedroom. I said good morning to my wife and welcomed our six-week-old daughter to another day of life moments before the silence began. Mindfully rousing my body from the bed, both feet landed barefoot on the cool bamboo floor. I floated down the hallway to greet three thirsty kitties and a hungry dog. Warmth and tranquility permeated through the house. It was palpable.

It felt right.

From cleaning dishes to watering houseplants, I followed the breath, maneuvered my posture, and visualized a continually swirling prana flow entering and leaving my body. Sinking further into meditation, I flirted with a semi-altered state of being. I became relaxed while simultaneously engaging the awareness of all 5 senses fully. I focused on the cultivation of peace, forgiveness and appreciation. My wife and I prepared for the day in a smooth synchronous rhythm unlike ever before. Communication took the forms of gentle touch, eye contact and body language. We shared a moment in the living room locking eyes for several seconds. Her gaze expressed unconditional support for my decision.

When I posted the day’s agenda on facebook, I immediately got a text from a friend asking if I was serious. I answered his question by not responding. Continuing on to breakfast, I stood in goddess pose at the kitchen counter, chopping broccoli and onions while moving the breath through some intense inhalations and exhalations. That’s when I had my first auditory hallucination of the day. I smiled, figuring the irrational experience meant I needed some calories ASAP.

The car ride to work was easy enough. I resisted the temptation to sing along with Clapton, and put in a CD that my mentor recently gave me—a 1954 audio recording of BJ Palmer lecturing on a topic called “Innate Intelligence Thought Flashes.” I continued working on my driving posture, realizing the warm air that flowed in through the long unopened window was the first of the spring season. I internalized every sensation the moment had to offer.

Hours 5-13: At the office, rollin’ along just fine.

A most fascinating thing began to happen as my morning of semi-solitude dissolved into a bustling chiropractic office with two co-workers and a steady stream of faxes, phone calls and parcel-delivery men. Interactions became very dynamic as people learned what I was doing. They changed their tone and lowered the volume of their voice instantaneously. Their words sunk into a delicate softness and precision that would make any meditation guide proud. Our office manager, Donna, was actually whispering to me at one point, sharing the state of peacefulness among the illusions of chaos.

Photo: kaex0r

During a treatment session, I always try to embody and project a prana state, so there was little difference without words. When I perform a chiropractic adjustment, I work within the energetic field by removing the mechanical interferences from the innate flow of consciousness.

There are moments, however, when I need the patient to hold or take a deep breath, shifting their focus and tension away from the area I am trying to balance.

Without the ability to tell them when and how to do this, I began ujjayi (ocean sound) breathing. Every single time I needed someone to move their breath, I simply performed the movement myself and, perhaps innately or subconsciously, they all followed suit.

At the end of a rather quick day, I stood at the filing cabinet with my back turned to Donna—an Aries and overall master conversationalist to say the least. She remarked on how comfortable my wife had looked earlier when she came into the office with our daughter. Losing myself for a moment, I replied out loud, “Yeah, she’s perfect.” Shocked at the sound of my own voice, I reflexively placed my open palms over my open mouth. Like a child who knowingly let a bad word slip, I tried to put the words back in.

The silence was broken. Now what? I seized the opportunity to practice self forgiveness. Donna smiled and said, “You’re only human.” I barely contained my laughter, tearing profusely, raising my alertness to the overwhelming sense of joy in my heart.

Hours 14-19: Home at last with my wife and daughter.

Some things never change. My wife asks me a question like, “can you fill up the water jug?” I nod my head silently and comply like a good husband. As my yogic life partner and intertwined female soul counterpart, she was the most affected by my internal changes. She even commented while nourishing our daughter on the living room couch, “I keep forgetting that I can talk.” I thought to myself, I’m contagious; hopefully it works on a baby who cries when she is hungry, wet, tired, bored and frustrated at the lack of control she has over her body. I hoped.

Photo: Alan Bruce

Spending time with my daughter was a challenge at first. I had been a constant source of auditory stimulation for this child for the last six weeks, but this next moment forever changed me as a parent. A pristine clarity in our communication slowly grew from both of our silent expressions. It was mostly my own projection right?

Since this child was born six weeks ago, every day has brought new experiences and interactions, so I didn’t bury myself in awe. I just remained present. We danced, did yoga, went outside and found some peonies’ spring buds. We discovered the miraculous nature of every conscious moment without the normal barrage of goo’s and gah’s.

Dinner time was amazing as usual; my wife is a magician in the kitchen. Peppers stuffed with quinoa, black beans, sautéed mushrooms, fried onions and tomato. She and I took several breaths to smell the sweet blend of various aromas that steamed off our plates. Every bite was savored. Every taste was tasted. Every swallow was followed by mindfully feeling the bolus slip past the tongue and down the throat. Looking up at my wife, I sent her my silent love while simultaneously receiving hers.

Hours 20-24: Silent night and early morning conclusion.

I was hoping the night’s slumber would bring me to the end of my 24-hour period, awaking to the sound of my own voice once again greeting my sleepy family. No such luck. A 4 am sleep protest for milk pierced the silence of the night, and I knew as soon as my eyes gathered what little light filled the room, that I was up.

I sat down on my yoga mat, reflecting on my dreams and jotted down a few scenes from the subconscious cinema that played during my slumber. Moving softly around the floor into a meditative position, my internal voice blasted through the early morning serenity. I meditate daily, but this was quite different than the usual early morning banter of the mind. When I finally managed to find space, the silence was equally obnoxious. Perhaps my awareness of nothingness was heightened from the 22 previous hours of silence. I didn’t know, and still don’t.

The overwhelming questions that flowed throughout the final hours were, “will anyone understand what I am doing?” followed immediately by, “do I understand what I am doing?” It wasn’t that I decided to hit the mute button for a day with no goals or intentions guiding the action, but I will submit that I may only know part of the answer to these questions. I was happy to leave a considerable gaping hole in my explanation, just in case some unknown fractal of my inner self decided to make an appearance and answer it for me.

When I was asked after the vow ended, “What was the point?” I replied, “Do you want to know the least, middle or most complex answer? . . . Oh, all of them you say?”

1. I gave up something for those who have lost almost everything, and for the acknowledgment and sacrifice to something greater than myself. In the end however, I didn’t feel as though I had really given anything up at all; it was more like shifting my attention somewhere else for a day.

2. I’m asking a sociological question: How important are all the things we fill our lives with? The answer I received during the vow was that some things are very important, and some things are not. My appreciation for things like language, silence, individual moments and personal relationships grew. The desire to overanalyze, get frustrated or become aloof shriveled up and was lost.

3. I created a spiritual vibration, sending out gentle ripples that glide without resistance rather than making waves that crash violently against jagged rocks. I was making an energetic statement beyond the 5 senses that is only understood by other energetic entities.


Dr. Brent Binder broke his vow of silence by reading from the Bhagavad Gita— “He who fails to keep turning the wheel thus set in motion, has damaged the working of the world and has wasted his life. But the man who delights in the self, who feels pure contentment and finds perfect peace in the self—for him there is no need to act. He has nothing to achieve by action, nothing to gain by inaction, nor does he depend on any person outside himself. Without concern for results, perform the necessary action, surrendering all attachments, accomplish life’s highest good.”

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