The observation of silence is a very important practice for those who are sincere and determined in the path of self-inquiry, and take seriously about their yoga and meditation practice.
The observation of silence is not just about not talking for a specific duration, but it is every moment observing the mind perception of names and forms without generate attachment, identification, craving and aversion towards all these names and forms.
When one observes silence for a particular duration, during those hours/days/months one
- doesn't talk,
- doesn't waste energy in vain talk, or social conversations that strengthen the worldly ideas, passionate desires and attachment,
- doesn't be curious,
- doesn't ask questions,
- doesn't discuss,
- doesn't interact with others,
- doesn't argue,
- doesn't criticize,
- doesn't comment,
- doesn't judge,
- doesn't compare,
- doesn't expect,
- doesn't anticipate,
- doesn't hold on to the past,
- doesn't project into the future,
- doesn't look at others to find out how they behave, what they do and don't do, or how is their practice,
- doesn't have physical or eye contact with others,
- doesn't express through verbal speech, body gestures or facial expression,
- doesn't be ambitious,
- doesn't plan, scheme, or plot,
- doesn't read,
- doesn't write,
- doesn't exert too much energy,
- doesn't involve in verbal, or physical, or mental activities that will stimulate, or agitate, or strain, or drain, or depress the mind,
Restricting the mind to express or project itself verbally, physically and mentally, limiting physical or mental activities to conserve energy and to calm down or quiet the thought waves, develop mindfulness, turning the mind inward for self-introspection and self-inquiry, to allow the mind to be able to see things as they are, without generate judgment, comparison, expectation, attachment, identification, craving and aversion.
Allow the mind to be aware of the reality as it is, without interfering, nor changing or controlling the reality to be the way that it likes it to be.
There is exception in the case of emergency, one speaks and acts when it is necessary.
If one practiced all these observations with the correct understanding, right effort and right attitude, one will develop great mental strength and flexibility to tolerate any conditions and situations, remains equanimous, undisturbed and undetermined by all the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses. One will have clear understanding of what is happening in the mind, and have self-control over one's actions and speech, not being over-powered by any impurities to influence one's actions and speech.
Serious yoga and meditation practitioners who see the attainment of self-realization (be free from ignorance) is the greatest duty for the well-being of oneself and for all humanity, who show disinterest or dispassion towards worldly activities and enjoyments, they don't just occasionally observe silence when attending some courses in some retreat centres, but they also observe silence in everyday life with some adjustments to accommodate whatever that need to be accommodated, to strengthen self-awareness and self-control, and to quiet the mind while living everyday life in the midst of the society.
Ask ourselves, how much time and energy we have spent on engaging in conversations with others everyday, and found ourselves have not enough time and energy to perform our duties and responsibilities, or to perform yoga and meditation practice?
This is not selfish at all. One must know how to take care of oneself before one can truly benefits others in the society. When one has attained a great foundation for non-attachment, then it is not necessary for one to observe complete silence, as one's mind won't be affected, nor disturbed, nor influenced, nor determined by all the perception of names and forms. One can blend into the society without being disturbed nor influenced by the society.
If this is not the path that we would be interested in, we don't have to take up this practice. It doesn't make us 'bad' or 'less good' than others if we are not interested to practice some or all of the teachings of yoga and meditation. It doesn't make us 'good' or 'better' than others if we decided to take up yoga and meditation practice.
May all be free through self-inquiry.