It is natural to be afraid of silence when we are not used to it, when we have not been taught to cultivate it, when we have rather been educated in the paradigm of doing and multitasking and know no other way of living.
"Everything we do not know is scary," explained Pablo D'Ors, the writer, priest and biographer of silence. "But that rejection is also multiplied because when you practice silence, you realize right away that the first thing that emerges is not pleasant. That beautiful deep core that we all have inside is surrounded by shade and darkness that we don't like and we cover it with a wrapper as a defense mechanism. Meditating means to break that wrapper to cross the dark path and reach the deep core, the light."
While we are meditating, we discover that we are really very restless and that there is a great "inner anxiety we have to cope with: it is like a wound that starts to bleed and if you do not pay attention to it you can lose all your blood. Firstly, you have to take a good look at what that wound looks like and then heal it. What meditation does is look at the wounds and people escape of it, because looking at the wound is painful. We'd rather not have injuries."
Pablo D'Ors in the World Happiness Fest
A few days ago we talked with Pablo D'Ors at the World Happiness Fest about the fear of silence (which is actually the fear of ourselves), fear of spirituality and much more. You can see his complete speech, Meditation, a journey to ourselves, just right here.
The priest and author of ‘Biography of Silence’ - an essay on his personal experience with meditation - explained why he believes there are some people who choose to make that spiritual journey and others do not; why some people feel that call and some people don't.
"In Christianity it would be like asking ourselves the question why Jesus called some disciples and not others. Perhaps the classic answer was that God chooses the one He wants because he is God. But I now have another answer and it is that Jesus called these fishermen and not others because they were there, they were present, they had not let themselves be entangled by their work, they were in themselves and they therefore were receptive to hearing that call."
D'Ors uses the expression 'to be awake', not as a synonym for 'enlightened' but as a metaphor for the one who is on the path of consciousness, of presence. In fact, according to him, that way of understanding spirituality (as a state of enlightenment) is just what generates the most rejection.
"We don't have to mythologize enlightenment because it makes you back off. What you have to do is just walk the path because if you only focus on the goal, it will prevent you from enjoying the journey."
Meditation: a way to cultivate spirituality
Thus, when you choose to cultivate spirituality, you realize that the process and is what matters and not the result... therefore, he explains, there is no need to ordain a priest, to be imprisoned in a monastery or to move to Nepal. There are hundreds of doors to start that path of spirituality; it can be the door of love between couple, work, art, nature… We are surrounded by opportunities to awake that spirituality.
"But I don't know a path as valuable, direct and resounding as meditation. Meditation is that discipline that allows us to live by cultivating ourselves mentally and bodily to bear fruits of peace. And what does it consist of? Well, it's an exercise of exterior and inner silence. While we remain attentive to the body we are trying to create this mental silence as well. There may still be mental chatter, but somehow it gets burned... meditating is not controlling the mind but accepting what the mind is. When you realize this, there's starting to be less chat. It exists, yes, but you perceive it in the background and that's when the quiet comes."
"Actually, what gives us distress is the fact that we can’t see" (Paul D'Ors)
Many will wonder what is good about this spiritual life, this cultivation of silence through meditation, what this has to do with happiness or inner peace, why we talk about it as if it were a good to achieve... D'Ors explains this connection:
"The first fruit of the practice of silence is clarity. It allows us to see things as they are, not as we would like them to be. With meditation we begin a process of emptying. Meditation empties us, disidentifies us, and as you walk you're emptying more and more and the consequence of this is that there's more and more space inside you and it allows you to see more things. This clarity gives you peace. And that is the second fruit of meditation. Since the fact that we don't see is what gives us unease."
In short, D'Ors says it is the cultivation of spirituality; whether through meditation or any other way, it is an aware work on the body and mind that bears fruits of harmony and compassion.
Meditating requires work and effort
Cultivating spirituality is simply living awake. "What makes something spiritual is consciousness"... But you have to work it out. The verb 'cultivate' is not a D'Ors’ whim. He speaks of 'cultivating' by emphasizing the need for effort, awareness and constant work.
And at this point, I wonder if it will not be that demand for effort and work that causes spirituality to remain a matter for a minority. Because they will agree that the long term does not fit well with our widespread culture of click and immediacy.
"We are few, but big changes always start like this. If we ask ourselves where we are going as humanity, I am not optimistic, but I do have hope... I think we're looking at a new paradigm. I believe that ideologies and money are going to continue to dominate the world for the time being, but I also believe that there is now a sensibility that we did not have before and that makes many of us bet on something different that is being transmitted... I see more and more good and dedicated people and it excites me because it is a clear sign that beautiful things can happen."
3 Tips to Start Meditating
We also believe this in the World Happiness Fest and that is why from this forum we try to put the wisdom of great experts like Pablo D'Ors at the service of people who want to wake up and start walking into their inner light... and D'Ors insists on the fact this is something that can be done from home. Here are the 3 tips he left for all people who want to get started on the path of meditation:
1) If you have this thirst for spirituality, sit autonomously for 15 minutes every day with your back straight with your breathing and returning to your center. "This practice makes us humble and responsive, but we don't have to look for results all at once. You have to be patient and being interested in oneself"
2) After a while of practicing alone, look for a teacher and others who support you in your practice "they don't have to be great gurus just someone who can accompany you.. a shanga or meditation group, this is essential because if we do it alone we fall apart so it is always better to do it accompanied.
3) Choose a specific path and give it a vote of confidence... it can be Sufism, Zen Buddhism, Christian contemplation, you must remain on the path you choose for a while, it is better neither to mix nor seek to become your own master. It is better to do so through the great ancient traditions of wisdom and to rely on those who have preceded us.