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Achieving greater awareness through silence

Silence: the power of quiet in a world full of noise is a mini spirituality manual. A guide full of reflections and practical advice on the art of silence to help us achieve greater awareness. The Buddhist monk Tich Nhat Hanh invites us to use silence to find our centre, suggesting a series of daily practices easily accessible to us all. Results can only be obtained by being consistent, and the power of our own will can lead us in the right direction. Since the aim of all human beings should be to live in the present, silence is the only real tool that can help us consciously get there, and to stay there, in the here and now.

Read in 10 min.
Listen in 13 min.

The NST (non-stop thinking) radio and its opposite: SILENCE

Thoughts, worries, fears and desires are just some of the constant noises that run through our minds: a continuum of words and images that end up taking all the available space, until they fill our minds to the brim. Those images become our thoughts. It is just like the background of an internal radio that constantly transmits, tuned into the station NST – Non-Stop Thinking.

Silence is the opposite of NST. In the gap between noise and silence lies the practice of meditation. In fact it is not enough to switch the radio off, shut yourself in a room and switch all the lights off to create the conditions for silence. For this silence to become real, we need to practice it, which means practicing meditation, daily, which in turn leads to awareness.

We find ourselves imprisoned in the past, which comes back to us in the form of memories or regrets in our minds, or in the future, trying to imagine what it is going to be like. Being trapped in this pattern, we avoid the present, which continues to escape us. The objective of the practice of silence is to focus all your energy purely on the present moment, and it all starts with the breath: the one single most powerful anchor that can bring our attention to this very moment.

We begin by doing one thing at a time, for example by cooking and thinking about what we are doing, or listening to music. All too often we get lost in an attempt to do too many things at once, like talking on the phone while we are cutting vegetables, or reading a book with the television on. Trying to optimise our time merely provides the illusion of saving it.

Only with the awareness that comes from listening to silence, can we be more attentive and truly be a part of the present moment.


The key ideas of "Silence"

The NST (non-stop thinking) radio and its opposite: SILENCE
The benefit of silence is increased awareness
The five true sounds of the Buddhist tradition
The four nutrients required for people’s wellbeing
Conscious fasting: the diet of noise and the practice of the four mantras
Only when you learn to listen to silence will you be able to hone your ability to listen
Take-home message
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