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What Is Silent Meditation?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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Rather than being a specific discipline or form of meditation, silent meditation is merely a technique in which one remains silent during his meditation practice. Some individuals opt to meditate silently simply because they find sounds such as mantras or music to be distracting, while others feel that silent meditation allows them to access a deeper meditative plane. During silent meditation, it is common practice to focus on the cycle of one’s breath. The concept of silent meditation gained popularity in Western countries such as the US in the late 20th century, leading to the foundation of a number of silent retreat centers.

Silent meditation is a technique which can be applied to many different forms of meditation. As its name suggests, the technique simply involves remaining silent during one’s meditation practice. This silence may be observed during individual or group meditations, and can last anywhere from a few moments to several days or even weeks, depending largely on the objectives and experience level of the meditating individual.

Some individuals opt to meditate silently simply because they find the sounds common to some types of meditation, such as mantras or ambient music, to be distracting. Others may wish to perform a meditation in a public or semi-public place, such as an office, in which noise would be bothersome to others. Still others feel that silent meditation allows them to access a deeper meditative plane.

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During silent meditation, it is common practice to focus on the cycle of one’s breath. In the absence of background noise, it becomes possible to hear the breath as it is drawn in and then released from the body. The breath can thus become a focal point, allowing meditating individuals to temporarily banish everyday thoughts and worries from their awareness and simply “be.” To facilitate concentration on the breath’s passage and build up one’s meditative discipline, some meditation experts recommend counting one’s breaths in cycles of 21, beginning with one cycle and eventually building up to several.

The concept of silent meditation gained popularity in Western countries such as the US in the late 20th century, leading to the foundation of a number of silent retreat centers. Some of these centers are affiliated with a particular religious discipline, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, or Christianity, while others are non-denominational. Certain centers offer periods of silence combined with other, non-silent activities, such as yoga, while others are totally devoted to silence. Retreats can vary in length from a few days to a few months.

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burcinc
Post 3

@bluedolphin-- Have you thought about joining a silent meditation retreat?

I used to have a lot of trouble focusing during silent meditation just like you. I overcame this issue at a retreat. We had several hours allotted in the morning and in the afternoon for silent meditation. I couldn't adapt initially, but after a few days, I was able to do it and it was absolutely blissful. When you are at a place away from work and family and you have no other choice but to sit there quietly and meditate, it's a lot easier to achieve it.

donasmrs
Post 2

@bluedolphin-- Silent meditation can be difficult when starting out but I do believe that it's the best type of meditation.

We all had trouble focusing and pushing out thoughts when we first began. Our lives are so hectic and stressful that we are used to thinking about something all the time. We don't get much time for ourselves. So the idea of just sitting downs silently, not doing anything, not speaking or thinking can be very strange for a beginner. It's normal to battle with those unending random thoughts while trying to meditate.

This is something you can overcome though. You just need to be persistent and patient. Try it every day. When you notice those thoughts, start

over and try again. Eventually, it will get easier and easier. And once you've succeeded in silent meditation once, you will see that it is much more relaxing and beneficial than anything else. I think that music and mantras are similar to those thoughts that we experience. The goal should be to keep the mind as silent as possible, which, in my opinion, is difficult when there is a lot of noise.
bluedolphin
Post 1

I find it very difficult to do silent meditation. Whenever I try it, some thought or the other occurs and I start thinking about random things. I just can't keep my mind still. Meditating with music is easier for me because the music keeps my mind engaged so that those random thoughts don't occur. I also find it easier to relax with music.

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