For most people there is never a moment of silence in the mind. A constant churning of thoughts, ideas, desires, plans, wishes, concerns, feelings, emotions, perceptions, and needs keeps mental activity of one sort or another always going. We seem to actually fear the silence, so if the inner state seems to be slacking off, we seek out external excitement or sounds to fill the void that we fear. Many people live with a constant state of external sound surrounding them, whether it is a TV, or a radio station, or a podcast, whenever they cannot be in a situation that supplies sound such as sporting events or recreational venues including restaurants, bars or nightclubs. Most people do not even recognise the possibility, not to speak of the value, of a silent mind.
The practitioner of yoga will occasionally experience a state that provides a taste of silence and provides encouragement to develop this state. The silence seems to descend putting the mind into a state of calm awareness, a state of readiness, while at the same time, there is no agitation or any sense of deprivation. On the contrary, this silence seems to be full of possibilities and fills the seeker with a sense of a deep and abiding peace and focus.
We hear stories of the creative process of great artists or inventors. They do not struggle through an arduous mental process during their creative action. They report generally that they enter into what some call “the zone” where everything is suddenly clear, and seemingly effortless, where they can see what needs to be done and they can carry it out with no tension or disturbance in the clarity of their mood. In fact, they will frequently feel a sense of fulfillment, peace, and a wide receptivity that is based in the status of silence as their minds, emotions, vital desires and physical demands diminish or fall away under the impetus of the silent state of creative intuition.
Sri Aurobindo observes: “It is not possible for the spontaneous silent condition to last always at once but that is what must grow in one till there is a constant inner silence — a silence which cannot be disturbed by any outward activity or even by any attempt at attack or disturbance.”
“The condition you describe shows precisely the growth of this inner silence. It has to fix itself eventually as the basis of all spiritual experience and activity. It does not matter if one does not know what is going on within behind the silence. For there are two conditions in the yoga, one in which all is silent and there is no thought, feeling or movement even though one is acting outwardly as others do — another in which a new consciousness becomes active bringing knowledge, joy, love and other spiritual feelings and inner activities, but yet at the same time there is a fundamental silence or quietude. Both are necessary in the development of the inner being. The absolutely silent state, which is one of lightness, voidness and release, prepares the other and supports it when it comes.”
Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 5 Bases of Yoga, Quiet, Calm, Peace and Silence, pp. 118-122