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A Yogic Practice to Quiet the Mind

A Yogic Practice to Quiet the Mind


    The human mind is always talking, especially in the conscious state, when you are awake. The average human being breathes around 21,600 times in twenty-four hours. And in those twenty four hours, an average person goes through sixty thousand thoughts. Thoughts reveal the human mind’s talkative nature, developed over millions of years of evolution.

    Meditation is the art, the science, of quieting your mind. However, a great number of meditators will quit meditation at the early stages — before they can even gain any tangible benefits from meditation. There are certain practices that can help a meditator develop their meditation skills. Such practices that help them not only meditate flawlessly, but also experience greater peace and joy in life.

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    One such practice is called mauna. It means “to observe silence”. It is in silence alone that one is able to examine the drift of one’s thoughts. It is easier to realize the talkative nature of mind while observing silence. Quietude of the speech is merely one type of silence; the ultimate goal is quieting the mind.  The inexplicable bliss one experiences is beyond all verbiage. In the beginning stages, you can compare observing silence to fasting, a fast from speaking.

    So, let me share with you the practice of observing silence. Start with small periods first. The shortest being at least one straight stretch of twenty four hours. I know given your commitments, that it may be hard to be silent for twenty-four hours but trust me — the results will make you want to do it more often. If you are merely observing silence of the speech by refraining from speaking, you are only fifty percent there. The practice involves observing complete silence; that means not holding any type of conversation. Please see the chart below: 

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      For example, let’s say that one Saturday night you decide to observe silence for twenty-four hours. You vow to start your practice on Sunday morning and end it on Monday morning. During that time, if you make any verbal comments, the impact is red and huge. Basically that is instant failure; you need to restart the practice. Avoid interactions of all types, and refrain from watching television. In the initial stages, you can read a newspaper or a book — even that brings down the quality of your silence. However, as you progress you will need to give up reading during periods of silence as well.

      Ideally, you should just be in a room in your own company. Observing silence does not mean that you can just sleep for sixteen out of twenty-four hours. You will merely be wasting your time in that case. Remember, we are not observing sleep but silence. The more mindful and alert you are, the better your practice. When in complete silence, you start to gain awareness of the talkative nature of your mind. The restless nature of the mind is best revealed and tamed in a state of quiescence.

      Observing silence has a negative impact on your ability to meditate. But that’s only in the initial stage. That is because your mind is not trained to be quiet. You are likely to experience a certain restlessness as well. You need not be alarmed; it is only natural. With persistence and patience, a quietude starts to dawn. And that is going to get you ready for good meditation. Observing silence is comparable to preparing a fertile ground to sow the seeds of meditation.

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      (I wrote on the types of conversations human mind is always holding some time ago; you may want to read up on that here.)

      The practice of observing silence is absolutely critical for the seeker desiring to experience a state of “superconsciousness”. Just like when you are enjoying yourself listening to your iPod, the external noise seems to subside automatically. The inner music of the soul renders all external sounds immaterial. You no longer feel bothered by who is saying what about you. You no longer feel the urge to join the rat race.

      Instead, you get time to stop, to pause, to think, to contemplate…and better lead your life.

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      (Photo credit: Mindful Practice at Sunset via Shutterstock)

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        Last Updated on September 28, 2020

        The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

        The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

        At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

        Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

        One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

        When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

        So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

        Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

        This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

        Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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        When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

        Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

        One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

        Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

        An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

        When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

        Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

        Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

        We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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        By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

        Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

        While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

        I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

        You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

        Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

        When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

        Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

        Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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        Con #2: Less Human Interaction

        One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

        Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

        Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

        This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

        While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

        Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

        Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

        This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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        For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

        Con #4: Unique Distractions

        Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

        For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

        To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

        Final Thoughts

        Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

        We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

        More About Working From Home

        Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

        Reference

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