The Silence

By Richard and Mary-Alice Jafolla
The Silence

There is only one way to experience "the silence" and that is to be silent, physically and emotionally silent. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the process called meditation.

Small Investments Bring Big Benefits
Sitting quietly, with the body relaxed and the mind stilled, brings many physical and emotional benefits. It reduces tension and stress, lightens anxiety, lowers blood pressure, increases energy levels, improves sleep patterns, helps to decrease harmful body chemicals and increase beneficial ones. It does all this and much more.

Yet these physical, mental, and emotional benefits cannot begin to compare with the greatest benefit, the one we actually enter the silence for, and that is the experience of knowing God and of activating our own divine qualities.

Since the within of us is so vast, it seems obvious that we should direct our attention to inner core, dipping into the eternal wellspring of life which we find there. During these times of stillness, we want to let go of all reservations, all preconceived ideas, all personal willfulness, and then surrender completely to Spirit.

Meditation is not prayer. Put simply, prayer is talking to God whereas meditation is allowing God to talk to you. You do this by getting quiet and intentionally directing your attention to your inner self, to the secret place of the Most High. …

You begin by relaxing your body and then turning your mind inward to the stillness, resting in the beautiful sense of your oneness with God.

Regularity and consistency apply to location as well as time. Always try to meditate in the same place. If you can set aside a special room in your home to do your spiritual reading and meditation, this would be ideal. Just walking into the room would prepare you for the silence.

However, few of us have that luxury, and so the next best thing is to have a special chair in a special corner of a room to be used for your meditation times and spiritual work. This is perfectly acceptable and serves quite well, as long as you can surround yourself with quiet when you are in your chair.

Maybe you have a favorite outdoor spot, one which has a minimum of distractions and is easy to get to. You will find the right place for your quiet times. The main thing to keep in mind is that it should be as free from activity and noise as possible. …

The Experience
… In your meditation, find something on which to dwell. That "something" could be internally listening to a sound or a word or paying close attention to your breath. Some people feel comfortable with dwelling on the phrase "I AM," internally saying "I" as they inhale and "AM" as they exhale. The silent phrase is then repeated continuously throughout the meditation time.

One good way to begin a meditation is by concentrating on your breathing. Just focus on your breath and follow it as you gently inhale and exhale. When you feel you are ready to turn your attention inward, take three slow deep breaths, each one deeper than the previous. These three deep breaths will eventually act as a signal, a cue to prepare you for your meditation. … After exhaling the last deep breath, switch your attention to your special phrase or word and resolutely follow it. …

Disregard all passing thoughts. Become indifferent to them. Of course, your mind will introduce, and attempt to entertain, all sorts of thoughts and feelings. Do not fight them. Just allow these thoughts and feelings to pass through. Keep on gently bringing back your attention to the process. Always be aware of the experience you are going through.

Expect Nothing: Don't be at all concerned with how you are doing. The more you are concerned, the less you are in the stillness. Meditation is not the time for concern about the challenges in your life. There is plenty of time later for that.

If your attention wanders, bring it back to the process of meditation. Don't battle with your mind. Don't try to get rid of thoughts. Nonresistance is the key to success. Your tranquil awareness and focus are really ail that are needed.

When you are finished with your meditation, return gently to full awareness. Allow yourself to savor the experience. ...

Excerpted from Adventures on the Quest. Mary-Alice and Richard Jafolla are the authors of many books and founders of Spirit of Life, a nonprofit organization dedicated to all aspects of wellness. They are former directors of Silent Unity®, the prayer ministry of Unity, serving people of all faiths with 24/7 prayer support.