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What is the sound of silence? January 20, 2015

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki exercise, Reiki wisdom.
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“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to pray in and play in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
—John Muir

“May we try to listen and be silent in order to make space for the beauty of God.”
—Pope Francis @Pontifex

“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”
—Zen proverb

It’s not easy to be quiet, or be in quiet, these days. Unless you live in a monastery, it’s practically a lost art. We all know it’s good for us. At some point, we’ve all heard someone say “It’s so loud in here I can’t hear myself think!” We know we must find quiet to recharge, to be able to truly hear the people who need our attention, to hear birdsong. But we’ve become part of a culture that tries to fill every second with sound, activity, excitement. How can we find “the beauty of God”?

The enlightened carry quiet within them wherever they go, as a lamp carries its flame. But those of us who have not yet reached that place can still find our own quiet, at least for a while. We can give up shopping at malls for entertainment. We can keep the TV turned off unless there’s a show we really want to see, rather than having it on at times as background noise. Ditto for music. We can walk away from the computer and laptop and iPad and smartphone, from Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. (It’s not like they won’t still be there when we get back.) We can, as John Muir suggests, seek beauty in nature, whether we’re in the mountains or just looking out the back door or sitting on our deck watching the sunset.

Once you’ve chosen your spot and turned off as much noise as possible, just sit. This is the hardest part. If you’re out in nature, but you’re hiking, or you’re skiing, or you’re sketching, or you’re taking photos, you’re not being quiet. You may not be singing or shouting or chasing people, but your mind is busy doing whatever you’re doing. It’s not quiet. You’re not quiet. This is true if you’re sitting on your deck as well. You’re not out there to take an inventory of repairs that need to be made. You’re there to just sit.

This is not the time to recite one of Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) or another stirring passage silently, either. Your goal is to just sit. Even doing Reiki self-healing, wonderful as it feels, is inappropriate, since it will focus your attention on your hands and body rather than on just sitting. Your goal here is “for mind and body to drop away,” at least while you sit, and for quiet to gather within you. Every time you do it, it becomes easier to drop into silence. And when you come out, it becomes easier to hold that silence in yourself.

Silly as it sounds, here’s what I do: I am absolutely addicted to those small white holiday lights. These aren’t the ones that blink on and off, they just sit there quietly twinkling. We have them on our back deck, and for the winter holiday season, we have them on our tree and in clusters in our living room. For me, they’re magic! In warm weather, if it isn’t raining, I love to go sit on the deck and watch the twinkly lights and a fire burning in our firepit as sunset gathers and darkness upon us. And indoors this time of year, I so love to just sit in the living room and watch the little white lights. Okay, it’s not sitting on the beach watching the surf, but you can find your own quiet wherever you like, a quiet that will delight you and help you grow in Reiki and in the good, compassionate life.

The ultimate point. November 9, 2014

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“When silence reaches an ultimate point,
the light penetrates everywhere.”
—Hsuan Hua

Sadly, silence is such a scarce commodity these days that it’s almost impossible to find it in your own home or yard, much less anywhere else. Yet deep silence can change us. When I was a child, my family went to Mammoth Cave. Once we were deep inside the cave, our guide asked our group to please be quiet. Then he turned off the lights so we could feel what absolute darkness was like. The darkness was impressive, of course, but what impressed me most was the silence. In that moment, it “reached an ultimate point.” And in that total darkness, as Hsuan Hua said, the light penetrated everywhere.

Just for today, find your own stillness.

His mind moves upon silence. August 20, 2011

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Like a long-legged fly upon the stream

His mind moves upon silence.

            —William Butler Yeats

If you’ve ever seen one of the long-legged waterbugs, like a water strider or water skipper, riding high and dry on the surface of a fast-moving stream’s water—never even dipping below the surface, much less sinking—it seems to defy the laws of physics. Serene, untroubled, it rests untouched, allowing the water to carry it where it needs to go.

The great Irish poet W.B. Yeats likens this image to the mind, reaching its destination by riding serene and undisturbed upon a stream of silence. But what is silence?

When you think of silence, do you envision a peaceful forest, mountaintop, or other beautiful, isolated place in nature? But what of singing birds, chirping insects, croaking frogs, the sound of the wind through grass and leaves, the sound of rain or moving water? If you picture gentle, rolling farmland, what of lowing cows, cackling hens, farm machinery? How about a soundproof room? No noise may reach in from outside, but what about the clamor of your thoughts, the beat of your heart, the sound of your breathing and shifting position?

Silence is a state of mind, or mindlessness. Even in deep space, where quiet is absolute, if you floated there with your mind racing 90 miles an hour, there would be no silence. Your thoughts would make more noise than the universe.

So how can a person achieve silence? Short of death, there is one way, and one way only: To be fully present in the eternal now, the present moment. If you are fully present, your mind is still. And that is as true if you are beading or knitting or weeding or looking out from a mountain or into a flower as if you’re meditating or telling your beads. I’m sure you’ve had many experiences like this, when you suddenly realized that you’d become so absorbed that you’d lost track of time, and it took a minute to even realize who and where you were.

For a Reiki practitioner, if you set your intention, set yourself aside, and put your hands down on your client or the object representing the client—the Reiki recipient—you may discover that you have become silence, at least for that time. That there is no thought, there is no you, there is no client, there is only Reiki and this moment. That, like a long-legged fly upon the stream, like the protagonists in Mr. Yeats’s poem, your mind moves upon silence.

But, you may be asking yourself, why would I want to do that? It’s all very well for monks or Mother Teresa or the Dalai Lama or something, but what’s in it for me? I’ve got bills to pay, a job to worry about, supper to get on the table, e-mails to answer, kids to reassure and motivate, a dog to walk, the news to watch, and my favorite show is coming on in three hours. Sorry, Dr. Usui, but I don’t have time for this silence stuff!

In today’s world, where multitasking is considered a virtue and overstimulation is a fact of life, it’s no wonder silence, one-pointedness, is undervalued. Let’s just take three dinner scenarios as examples:

1. You and your significant other decide to go to a restaurant as a special treat. You arrive and are seated, with four giant TVs mounted on the walls and showing different programs, radio music blaring, the cooks at the hibachi or sushi bar or woodburning oven or whatever performing, and everywhere, people shouting into their cellphones or at each other to be heard above the din. Meanwhile, the staff rushes your food to you and away as fast as they can. By the time you get back to the car, you can barely remember what you ordered.

2. You swing by your favorite fast-food place to pick up dinner on your way home from work. You order from your car, move through the drive-through, and resume your commute, gulping coffee and trying to maneuver your wrap or sandwich while keeping a hand on the wheel and talking to your spouse, kids and friends on the cell. You hope the food’s still hot by the time you get the kids from practice, but hey, they’d probably never notice, they’re so busy texting, listening to the latest on their iPods, and bickering with each other.

3. You spend 15 minutes opening boxes and packages, grabbing stuff from the fridge and freezer, and nuking away so you can serve up a “home-cooked” meal. The kids grab plates, load them up, complain bitterly that they wanted this, they’re on a diet and aren’t eating that anymore, why isn’t there ever enough of whatever. Then they head for their own rooms with their plates and get back to their Facebook friends, tweeting, texting, and watching their own TVs or something good on their laptops or iPads. But you don’t even notice; you and your spouse have settled in front of the TV with your own plates and the only conversation is about what to watch or what to drink or if there’s dessert.

Doesn’t silence, “the peace that passeth all understanding,” sound kind of good by comparison? Not only are you never bored or frustrated when you’re fully present in the moment, you feel a sense of refreshment, renewal, vitality, and mental and sensory sharpness like no other when you “come back to yourself.” It’s the best vacation in the world, and it’s one we can all afford, anytime, anywhere.

Excerpted from Living Reiki. All content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.