silence

My Right to Remain Silent:
Empowered Speechless
Xahej Bajipura
February 19, 2017

“Are you sick? Did you lose your voice? Are you ignoring me?”
These are some of the typical comments others—concerned—ask me when I don’t speak on Sundays.

Actually, I feel at my best—physically, mentally and spiritually—when I fast from words. It’s the best “diet” I have ever been on!

rumi

For over a year, I have been practicing maun vrat—vow of silence—for the purpose of slowing down and connecting with my true self. Spiritual leaders like Mahatma Gandhi are known to have done this for extended periods of time as well.

mother-teresa-on-do-it-anyway

I started off being silent for one hour, slowly extending the maun for 5-6 hours and now I can go over 24 hours to 48 hours without speaking. That’s not to say I have not had my fair share of expletives. For example, I couldn’t hold back some four-letter words when slightly burning myself from sparks while moving incense during a self-Abhyanga massage 😉

aka Self-Massage using lightly warmed sesame seed oil

aka Self-Massage

Those who know me as fast-talking and chatty are impressed when they see me speechless. While they believe it must take tremendous willpower for me to be silent, in reality, I prefer being silent for the multitude of benefits and ease I feel.

you-can-feel-the-soul-in-silence-mother-teresa

My day begins with a smile as I wake up in gratitude for a happy new breath, without rush or expectations.

weapons-of-mass-distraction

Digitally detoxing from news, social media, YouTube, advertisements (according to marketing research we are exposed to 4,000-10,000 advertisements a day), environmental messaging, phone calls, text, and emails helps center me by forcing me to look inside.

digital-detox

I pre-write a note if necessary so others are aware of my practice.

A note I wrote before attending Diwali festivities

A note I wrote before attending Diwali festivities

Friends, co-workers, family, and those I encounter on the weekend –cashier or juicer at grocery store, strangers, etc. know or come to learn I do not speak Sundays and respect my practice. We laugh together when they too act silent and mime communication. Many are proud of me, give me blessings and say they would love to attempt it themselves.

enjoy-the-silence

However, communication is not always perfect. In some instances, my attempt at sign language is misinterpreted.

One Sunday afternoon, I was carrying my teacher’s rolling cart—so filled I had stopped using the lid soon after I bought it. I planned to take the elevator. As the couple before me entered the small quarters of the elevator, I was going to wait for the next one. Instead, I was invited to get on the same elevator as the couple.

Gentleman: We’ll fit. Join us.
Me: Not having any pre-written notes (or free hands to carry any), I nodded and smiled to be polite.
Gentleman: Which floor? We are going to the fourth.
Me:I flicked up three fingers equating to the third floor.
Gentleman: {Slightly confused and attempting to clarify my response} Which floor?
Me: I went to the buttons and pointed at “3.”
Gentleman: Oh good! For a minute, I thought you were flipping me off in some other language! You put the fingers up and down quickly.
Me: I nodded “no” but despite the shock and embarrassment I couldn’t hold back my laughter

no-phone

I look forward to my weekly practice; it feels good giving myself a break from a hurried life that cries to reach an ever-moving destination. Instead, I savor the steps of my right-on-time journey as I listen to my inner guidance system and accept where I am. The hardest part of silence is breaking the fast because I am most at peace on this day. It can also be tough for those close to me who want me to make exceptions or start talking before I choose to.

calm

I am truly my ideal self on the days I practice silence. My mind is a blank canvas, less fogged up by worries, doubts and fears. I am more focused on what is important to me, including my health, relationships, spirit and service (Show and Heal). My heart is more open and loving. I have clarity and higher self-esteem as I feel better about myself. Over time I have been able to maintain benefits from maun vrat even when I am not silent.

blank-canvas

One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that words are not always necessary and smiles, laughs and body language can be more effective at times. Other times, trying to prove a point does not make a difference or can make situations worse.

Some Benefits I Have Experienced So Far
1. Happier & relaxed
2. Prioritize Prayer & Meditation
3. Better listener (not interrupting anyone speaking!)
4. Take time for Self-Care with Self-Abhyanga Massage

abhyanga

5. More at ease in physical activities & activities throughout the day
6. Consciously breathe, eat, and observe thoughts
7. More forgiving & less judgmental

yoga

8. Conserve energy (a must as a teacher and human rights advocate!)
9. Slow down
10. I love myself more, thus love others more
11. More compassionate to self and others

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12. Have more time in the day (less time on phone/online) to accomplish what needs to get done and rest!
13. Increase Patience
14. Become more Grateful
15. Skill of holding my tongue, filtering thoughts before they come out (not saying everything that pops in my head)

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