Noble Silence

January 30, 2013


The sign on the classroom door reads, "Please observe noble silence."

What exactly, though, is "noble silence"? And what is this sign asking us to do?

"Noble silence" was first used by the Buddha and is described as follows by Spirituality and Practice:

"Listening takes place not just through the ears,  but with all the senses. Sometimes the best way to prepare ourselves to hear in a new and better way is to be still and silent. When we quiet our motor minds — and our motor mouths — we find that we are better able to open our hearts. The ancient practice of Noble Silence helps us begin the process of hearing in a new way; this is a timeless and wise practice that helps us be more sensitive and perceptive.."

So. . .does this mean that we must be quiet when we enter the yoga room ?  That's a difficult question to answer.

Community is fostered through conversation and shared experiences.   And so yes. . .we greet one another and are somewhat chatty.

But noble silence asks that we simultaneously quiet ourselves enough to hear with our skin and feel with our eyes, to be still enough on the inside so that we can enjoy the presence of our friends, who are also quiet enough within themselves to enjoy us--energetically and wordlessly.

Most of us don't know how to do this because we're NOT quiet when we're with our friends.  But with practice we can settle into a companionable silence that allows us to feel one another on a very deep level.

Noble Silence is that state of inner peace that so often transpires within us during our asana classes.  It's a gift, a mini-vacation from our lives and from ourselves that has regenerative power.

But why wait for the end of class to feel this good?

Sometime, just for fun, see what happens if you start the process when you walk through the door.

Nancy McCaochan, an M.A., E-RYT 500, taught freshman composition at a small technical college in Southeastern Ohio before moving to Michigan in 2001 to study yoga with Jonny Kest. Because of her varied background, Nancy has a pragmatic approach to yoga. Her motto is "breathe, be aware, and do what works for you." Nancy's primary influence is Krishnamacharya, but she also studies shamanism and is currently exploring Kundalini yoga. Nancy's classes are breath-based explorations of inner space.

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