If there is sound, then it must arise out of silence, it’s opposite. Yet silence, complete silence, is something we don’t know – if there is life, there is vibration, and if there is vibration then there is sound. We do not need to go as far as the loud alarms and sirens intended to shake our entire body and make it react, there is also the sound of people talking, of running water, of chirping birds, of rustling leaves, of a passing breeze, the sound of one’s own breath, heartbeat and if you really listen the sound of the blood as it pulsates through the body.
Yogaś citta vrtti nirodhah – yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, or yoga is the silencing of the fluctuations of the mind.
When astronauts prepare to go to space, they are also trained to prepare for the silence by spending time in anechoic chambers – specially prepared spaces which keep all the sound out and can keep up to 99.9% silence. Being in these spaces has been known to bring about feelings of anxiety and claustrophobia. When visitors are faced with the sound of the vibration of their own living body, and worse still, faced with the sound of their citta vrttis, with no other sound to muffle them out, panic arises. In hospital waiting rooms, in elevators, in planes before take off, music is played as a way to hide the sound of the often fear filled citta vrttis. Sound replaces the negativity, sound makes one think that everything is alright, sound tells you that life exists.
So if silence does not exist because we exist and vibrate, what is it we seek when we say we seek silence? Rather than silence do we not seek a space where that which we hear has a positive vibrational energy? Sounds that can direct our citta in a path of illumination, of inner silence, of quiet and calm – running water, chirping birds, the sound of whales calling out to each other, rustling leaves, crickets singing, all these sounds seem to bring about this meditative state where we are able to feel safe enough with the exterior sound surrounding us to let go of the inner fluctuating sound. This is the purpose of the mantra meditation, this is the beauty of Om, they both replace the sound of the fluctuations of the mind with the silent yet loud sound, the illuminating nadam, of the inner vibrational sound of mantra repetition.
– Maria Macaya