The silence of mind

Hoisting my dehydrated body to sit up upright, I lean my back against the small cushion that sits motionlessly, serving as a soft and furry barrier between me and a white wall slightly stained with black pencil marks. I hear the songs of birds chirping outside. Instead of picking one, I try to take them all in. I hear the chatter of my friends sitting in the common room and the crunching sound of seaweed under their teeth. Sweat drops are slowly dripping from my thighs and neck with the timidity of kids afraid to climb back down from a tree they clambered on top of despite all the warnings. I hear fresh water pouring down into one of the metal cups from the water dispenser, causing bubbles to climb up to the surface. I venture to part the wooden windows that were clumped together like sealed lips and the sunlight enters our room with a disturbing haste, darting through the lackadaisical pilgrimage of gliding dust particles. In defeat, I rise up to my feet to turn on the fan suspended from the center of our ceiling. My action results in a repellent vortex of ventilation that disperses the dust and sets curtains into motion. The glaring light of my laptop screen, the methodical sound of water drops coming from the shower, my friends’ constant typing on their keyboards, and the swaying of flowers outside.

The shared silence of our minds brings clarity to all those other sounds and visions around us that we seldom recognize. Silence of mind can be a liberating blessing rather than a sign of confusion and emotional numbness. By shutting the clatter in the back of our minds, we open up space for attention to external elements as well as self-reflection. Commenced with group meditation, our today taught us a lesson on practicing silence as a method that spiritually connects our hearts with the surrounding voices of nature. The rustling of leaves, the enmeshed songs of birds, the gradual flow of the river, and the laborious steps of ants. I have never felt more comfortable in my life after silencing my inner voice. Over the years, listening to my inner voice too much has caused me unnecessary pressure, underperformance, and eventually disappointment.

During my cross-country and spring track seasons, I tried to employ a similar method to stop listening to chatter in my head. Although we run as a team, running has a pretty individualistic aspect as well that can get mentally pressurizing and physically cruel. While running, I’m always on my own and I tend to think excessively about the finish line, the smarting of my legs, the hill ahead, the guy next to me. As this multi-wagoned train of thoughts runs through my head during races, emotions of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence come crushing down on me like fiery arrows. Following those moments of failure, I learned not to think about anything during races and tried to just look into the distance blankly with no thoughts in my head. A friend of mine once gave me the advice that, “The key to success in cross-country is comfort.”

For me, the silence of mind leads to a state of comfort, in which I don’t have to think about the outcome of my efforts. By not keeping my mind preoccupied with anything else other than the absorption of the present time, I learned to treat each and every single moment like my last and thus made them count.