Engaging Silence



"Language can only deal meaningfully with a special, restricted segment of reality. The rest, and it is presumably the much larger part, is silence." ~ George Steiner

"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you." ~ Zora Neale Hurston

The silence is scary because of the thoughts that come rushing in; since movement and speech works like a dam to all the thoughts that you don't want to bring up. EVER.

With Yoga (and basically every form of meditation and solitary exercise), you're screwed. At a best, you can't twiddle your thumbs, or turn up the volume, or even shrug fashionably, at worst, you wallow in all the thoughts you can’t subside.

For all of the good reasons above, I hadn't done yoga in almost a year. Or maybe even more than that, since Sue, my yoga teacher, left (Sue, if you're reading this, I’M SORRY).

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Unfortunately, I was already in my third yoga pose when I remembered why I stopped doing yoga for so long. It was a bit too late to jump ship because I was already crushed under a pile of overwhelming thoughts, and a pinch too close to a full-blown cry-fest.

[I was thinking, in no particular order, "Dad's here, I should go and see him, but he's not going to approve of me, and he's going to start judging me and we're going to start one those arguments about the way I dress and the way I talk, and barely got off the depression from going through all of that with mom last week..."]

Around the part where my knees gave and I said "fuck this" and started sniveling, was when I STARTED HEARING THINGS.

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Hearing Voices isn’t new amongst creatives and crazies. Elizabeth Gilbert filled volumes in "Eat, Pray, Love" and speeches about it, and half of the schizophrenic residents in any mental asylum have had experiences with it too.

The difference between crazy and celestial is in the quality of that Voice. A Voice that is still mine, yet sharp and decisive and atypical of me for its coherent precision.


Nothing philosophical that would break my session with “Huh? What?”. Nothing too brief to fail its purpose in pushing me forward: I got up, did a Tadasana - a stand-correct pose - and managed to do all the other poses allotted for the day's session.


Every time my flow jagged and thoughts reemerged, the Voice cheered without becoming annoying. It said things like, "This is going to make you feel better. One more asana. The elongated triangle pose. The Parsvottanasana." - Hey, I'm thinking in glossary terms! - "Breathe. Breathe..." and then, NOTHING.


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The Silence, what's so unfamiliar about it, didn't feel like a pause between thoughts and poses. It didn't come because the Virabhadrasna II demanded more concentration. Didn't feel like it was jammed into my head like SHOCKING CAPITALIZATIONS.

It felt like an encouragement, a gentle nudge, coming deep from within, and connected with everything else: the floor, the room, the house, the guests that the Timekeeper was receiving and even the Void.

The Silence wasn't an emptiness; it was not not-knowing what to think. It was not a blank state. It was just there. It was what Yoga, being in the moment and acts of worship and not breaking your fast for a cigarette and exercising, is all about.

For as long that it lasted, at least.

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After the final pose, while heading to the shower, I donned my leisurely self-hating thoughts again. I was "that loser I've been so afraid of becoming" again; the failed project amongst my siblings, the quirk who doesn't seem to optimize all her potentials.

And I was fine with that. It's not like a single Yoga session could fix a lifetime of issues, or even a light bulb.

The only difference is that, before that particular session, I didn't know that I could actually take a break from all my failures and accomplishments and blogger's blocks. A break, man, not a vacation, not a chocolate bar, not a rant or a moment of reward.

Just a break.

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Cynically speaking, I might have been so afraid of my thoughts that I JUST HAD TO DROP THEM, to shun everything else in desperate attempt for consolation. Isn't it why I don't live conventionally?

Then again, even unconventionally, I'm not detached from what I want, and what the world wants of me. Living in a calm environment doesn't necessarily induce peace, right? Something is always buzzing in my head with articles to write, things to do and WORLDS TO CONQUER.

Yet it all came down to that first sentence the Voice had said, that the next pose is the only thing that mattered then. When I started listening and my mind tranquilized. When variables didn't matter, and my life's purpose was simple and one-pointed.

Maybe that’s what Mother Teresa meant when she said, "God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the stars, moon and sun, how they move in silence." - A glimpse of God.

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