The Gold in Silence
In August I did a weeklong course called POL which was conducted partially in silence. I didn’t feel constrained by not talking. Rather, I felt relieved. It was restful.
Lately I’ve been thinking about my naturally extroverted personality. Is it really natural? It’s only late in life that I’ve been drawn to the reflective practices of yoga: savasana, yoga nidra, pranayama and meditation. I’m still learning. I like the idea of being introspective, but I don’t fall into this sort of state naturally.
My husband, Daniel, belongs to the Taree Men’s Group–a special bunch of guys who open up their meetings once a month to include women. One of the men described the work that they do in the group as ‘introspection with help’.
I get it. For the most part in our society, we adhere to social conventions that want us to be sociable–extroverted. We don’t have a lot of practice in being introspective, hence the men’s commitment to helping each other find this quiet, contemplative place inside.
Of course this is what the wise old sage, Patanjali, tells us in Sutra 2: the purpose of yoga is to still the fluctuations of the mind. This see-sawing and yo-yo-ing of the mind is a noisy thing, and at the same time subliminal, like the background racket in a busy cafe. The only way to identify our internal dialogue, which can often unsettle us, is to become quiet and introspective.
Finding the Balance
The truth is that too much introversion can lead to self-absorption; and too much extroversion can lead to losing oneself entirely. However, it’s in the silence that one can listen for feedback about any imbalances and find an even keel again.
Child’s pose, above, and these two restorative poses below help me when I’ve been out in the world and need to find a way back to that sometimes elusive still place within myself.