We may sit under a radio station with a transistor in hand; yet the broadcast may not be heard unless the transistor is tuned in correctly. In a similar fashion, unless we tune in, and filter out all other disturbances, we may not be able to hear the voice of conscience within us, to guide us correctly on the right path. Sri Sathya Sai Baba has said,
It is in the depth of silence that the voice of God can be heard.
Silent sitting is a process of Tuning in. It brings the inner consciousness in the forefront. We install the divinity as the guiding force in life so that, through the intellect, we can manage and monitor the vagaries of the mind. If the quality of thoughts is good, the quality of mind will also be good.Sow a seed of thought, reap a fruit of action.
Sow a seed of action, reap a fruit of habit.
Sow a seed of habit, reap a fruit of character.
Sow a seed of character , reap a fruit of good fortune- Sathya Sai Baba.
Why Silent Sitting?
Truly it is said: Master the mind and you are mastermind. It is a common experience that even when we are extremely still the mind is continually engaged in an internal chatter. In fact, even when we are asleep, the mind remains awake all the time. As a result, the mind does not get tired but we get tired physically. Each time , a thought arises in the mind , a small quantum of our energy is dissipated. Imagine how much of our energy is getting wasted due to random and unproductive thoughts. If from a hundred thoughts, we would bring them down to a few and finally to one, tremendous amount of energy could be saved.
SAI + LENS = SILENCE
Moreover, the concentrated thought will result in a manifold increase of us efficiency and deeper understanding. Thus silent sitting will lead to superior concentration, better receptivity and finer grasping power. It would greatly aid memory. It would improve the quality of work by opening new vistas of peace and tranquility. It would increase the span of attention and optimize our potential.
However, many a times, we find it difficult to focus our mind on to an object we want to and it is even more difficult to withdraw the mind from an object or an idea we want to avoid. Like a mad monkey jumping from branch to branch without a break. Also this chain of thoughts is accompanied by emotions- pleasant or otherwise. Thus , against our wishes, the mind takes control of our thoughts, feelings and, eventually, our actions. Silent sitting is a process of reversing this trend. Instead of leading our thoughts to worldly objects, and sky is the limit for our desires, Silent Sitting takes us on an inward journey.
Consider for a moment a lake in which we want to see the reflection of the moon. If the surface of the lake is turbulent, and ripples are constantly generated over it, the reflection cannot be seen. Similarly, if our mind is constantly agitated and troubled due to desires and worldly attachments, it would not be possible to go deep within us to see divinity reflected in the pool of consciousness.
Moreover, it is not sufficient to still the thoughts. If the lake were polluted with garbage and dirt, it would be opaque to light. In a similar manner, our mind having accumulated over the years the garbage of falsehood, ignorance, animosity etc. becomes opaque to the inner light of knowledge. Hence to experience divinity, the mind has to be tranquil and transparent. Silent sitting is a process of cleaning – of self purification. When the spiritual heart is purified, it opens up hidden springs of love and devotion. It directly instills the values of Truth, Love and Peace. In a value- based educational programme, Silent Sitting is of utmost importance to the student and the teacher because it carries the authenticity of experience. Results of some studies conducted around the world are illustrated here. During meditation, breathing rate and consumption of oxygen is reduced considerably.
In the classroom it is advisable to start Silent Sitting with young children for only a minute or two and gradually build up. The most important factor is that it is practiced regularly, even at home during holidays. We will notice that those who are practicing Silent Sitting sincerely become quiet and less restless; gradually, they have become more confident of themselves and are able to concentrate on their work more.
We begin with a 2 minute silence at the start of a lesson .Then, we close a lesson with a minute’s Silence. Children are asked to sit up straight, keep their feet firmly on the floor and place their arms by their side or on top of the table palm downward. The important thing is that the body should be steady and in a convenient posture. Now they should close their eyes, and think and feel good. Just as, while closing classrooms etc. after the school is over, the last person to leave switches off the lights and fans, locks the door and windows, leaving only the essential machinery (Fax, burglar alarm, etc.) in power mode, the person who meditates consciously shuts off all the sensory stimuli.
Initially, the mind will wander away; therefore, to focus it on one object or idea, children can be led into guided visualizations with their eyes closed. An example will follow later. The teacher should guide the children in a melodious and gentle but firm voice. A teacher who practices silent sitting regularly at home will automatically speaks from experience and this will deeply affect the children in acquiring peace within. Sometimes, soft instrumental music can be played in the background to heighten the effectiveness.
In due course of time children start taking keen interest, and are able to sustain concentration for a longer period. Out of the several methods suggested for children, Silent Sitting using a flame (Jyothi) is found to be very effective. Light has a spiritual significance; it symbolizes wisdom. Going from darkness to light (Tamasoma Jyothirgamaya) is like going from ignorance to knowledge. An actual flame of a candle or a lamp should be used , it should be kept with a steady flame, just above the level of the eye and visible to all those present. After some practice when a flame is not available, children will be able to visualize (imagine the flame reflected upon their inward eye) when the eyes are closed. Let us take an example of what the teacher can actually say in both the cases-“guided visualisation’ and ‘silent sitting with a Jyothi’.
Children, place yourself in a comfortable position. Feel at ease,relaxed, from top of your head, face, to the hands and down to the feet. You are feeling peaceful, happy. Now we will go for a walk in the forest. We put on soft walking shoes. We are breathing in fresh cool air among the trees. The path is soft with fallen leaves. We can listen to the soft rustling of the branches of the tall trees, and the chirping of the birds. How they seem to sing to the glory of a new day. The rays of the morning sun find their way through the trees and make bright patches on the path; they shine like sparkling diamonds.
The multicolored wild flowers look so pretty. The aroma of the leaves and smell of the flowers is so refreshing. Do you notice any squirrels, rabbits or birds? They are all happy, enjoying the peace and calmness in the forest. Further into the forest, you hear the murmuring sound of a stream. Pure, clean and sparkling water flows down as the stream sings a song inviting all birds and animals to share its water. This is heaven. Let us rest here for a while breathing in and out, deeply.
Now it is time to return back to school. We will come here some other day, to meet our new friends- the birds and the animals. We will never forget their happy faces, their songs and their joy. “Thank you my friends, for you made me happy. Thank you trees and the stream. You made me refreshed and peaceful. I will surely return one day” Now you made me refreshed and peaceful. I will surely return one day” Now you are back in class. Very gradually open your eyes. Feel the freshness and silence of the forest, and keep it with you all through the day.
This whole session may take a longer time than just two minutes. Therefore, conduct this session during an extended period of Direct Teaching of Values; It can then be recalled in the classroom for a shorter period. Even the silence of a minute or two can help set the mood, and calm down the children for the class. You will find that they are more receptive, and digest the lesson quickly. Eventually there is a saving of time.
Children, sit up straight in a relaxed position. Look at the flame in front of you. Breathe in and out slowly and rhythmically. Very gradually close your eyes. With some practice, you will see (visualize) the flame with your eyes closed. This light is pure. It is knowledge and wisdom. Now we bring this sacred flame close into the centre of our forehead in between the two eyes. Now we gradually take the flame within. It fills our forehead with a golden light of love and goodness.
Bring it down slowly inside you, through the throat, upto the level of the heart, but in the middle of the body. This is normally considered as the location of the ‘Spiritual Heart’. Imagine this is in the shape of a lotus bud. With the warmth and light of the flame falling on it, its petals open up one by one. Now the flame comes lower to occupy the centre of the lotus flower. The flower gradually fades away. All we now have is the sacred flame of knowledge, deep in the niche of the spiritual heart, spreading its love and warmth all around.
We now bring the light to different organs of the body to make them sacred and pure. We bring the light to each of the eyes so that they are filled with divine light. We shall now see only good around us. We bring the light to both the ears, purifying them. Now they will listen to good sounds- devotional music, cheerful words, not bad music or criticism of others.See good; do not see bad
Hear good; do not hear bad
Speak good ; do not speak bad
Think good ; do not think bad
Do good; do not do bad.- Sri Sathya Sai Baba
We bring the light to the tongue and mouth so that they are filled with pure light. May we now speak softly and lovingly; may we sing in adoration of the Lord. May we eat and drink only healthy food and beverages. Let the whole mind be filled with the light of Love.
Thus we take the light to both our arms and upto the fingers. Then we take the light to both the legs, upto the toes, and give them the sacred light. What we do with our hands, where our feet take us, will always be for good. Now bring back the flame to its place in the centre of the spiritual heart.
Our entire body is filled with divine light. Feel the warmth of love within you. Now we can share this love with others. Imagine that this light radiating from you increases to cover your whole body and beyond. Feel yourself enveloped in the light of love. First, the light was in me. Now I am the light.
Let the light expand to cover your near and dear ones – mother, father, brother, sister etc. See them surrounded in your love. Now let the light expand further to your friends, relative and pets. Let your love reach even those with whom you quarrel, so that they become your friends.
Now send the light all around to envelope the whole world. Feel that the warmth of love is all around; only love, peace, happiness. Feels that: “You and the light are one.”
Slowly withdraw the light and bring it back within yourself. Keep it there for a while. Enjoy the calmness, the feeling of joy. Now it is the time to return. Touch both palms together (like in Namaste posture), rub them slowly against each other; and bring them to rub gently against your closed eyes. Open your eyes slowly.
If children have enjoyed this session, they will experience a lot of gain in energy, much peace and tranquility. They would find this an inspiring activity. Ask them to do silent Sitting before writing an exam paper; before going to bed when they pray.
The Sohum Mantra
The practice of Sohum Mantra before a Silent Sitting session will greatly enhance peace, cheerfulness and tranquility. Our breath goes in with the sound Soh and comes out with Hum; We naturally repeat once the Sohum Mantra each time we breathe in and out. The meaning of Sohum is I AM THAT; thus , we contemplate our oneness with the Supreme Principle while practicing the Sohum Mantra.Universal Consciousness becomes the Prana, the vital force, within us and then through the Mantra, it powers the breathing process within the human body.
Initially, children can repeat the syllabus along with their breathing; it will gradually synchronize with the breathing. All that one has to do is to maintain rhythmic breath and become aware of it. Soon they will begin to hear the sound naturally.
Silent Sitting is the most effective form of communication because we are communicating with our inner self. Before sleep we could reflect upon our conduct during the day and seek scope for improvement. And while we sleep, the subconscious is continually working to consolidate the gains, transforming subtle layers of our personality to higher layers of consciousness.