We live in a society where our attention is solicited to an extent never experienced before in human history. There are few public places where our attention is not constantly challenged by all kinds of messages, whether they are advertising (generally) but also of another nature. And all these solicitations are accompanied by various sounds, whether musical, verbal, various noises, what have you. For a young person, that would be well over four hours of viewing and listening to his/her cell phone per day, for adults even more (with television).

However, all those who consciously cultivate silence know that regeneration happens at a very deep level through such a practice. An hour of deep silence is a natural therapy that is perhaps more effective than hours in a “shrink’s” office. And the only way to prove it is to try. “But that’s just not possible for me,” some people will say, especially single mothers who work and raise children at the same time – silence is not usually their favorite pastime! I recognize that for this category of people, it is a heroic thing to do. But for the others, who constitute the vast majority, it is certainly possible. The author of these lines used to get up at four o’clock in the morning to meditate (which led to the loss of his job, because his boss, a fierce atheist, felt that he no longer wanted to employ such an unbalanced person.) But since “all things work together for the good of those who love life,” according to an ancient sage, the long period of unemployment without benefits that followed led him to create the Vivre Autrement workshops, which have benefited thousands of people in several countries for more than thirty years.

For a person who would like to practice silence, what to do?  Start with a short period  – 20 or 30 minutes – at the same time each day (when you wake up, after washing up in the morning is an excellent time,) or in the evening before going to sleep (if you don’t doze off!) Set an alarm so that you don’t keep looking at your watch or alarm clock. If a lot of thoughts intrude immediately, which will often be the case, repeat a short affirmation (some call it a mantra) that really speaks to you, e.g. “I am deep peace” or “deep peace resides in me,” or “I am only love” etc. The little ego will immediately start to grumble, even scream, like “You say you are love and you don’t even get along with your sister-in-law.” (This is the ego’s favorite role, and you are totally ignoring it). It is important to sit in an upright but comfortable position, in as quiet a place as possible. (With practice you can even do this on the train or bus – but not while driving your car!) And over time it will become such a magical moment that you won’t want to do without it.

PS: If after several months of unsuccessful attempts, you still can’t  concentrate, send me a short email. I will only reply to emails dealing with this issue.

Pierre Pradervand
June 2023

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