How one day of silence can change your life

Aurovalley Ashram, India, silence, yoga, meditation, Himalayas, Rishikesh, Kumaon

An experiment with silence led to a new way of seeing

IT’S A RARE RAINY DAY in March at Aurovalley Ashram and I’m listening for the sound of silence. I can hear silence in the sound of tiny drops of water landing on the earth. I can hear silence in the bright flowers that sway with happiness in the light breeze. I can hear silence in the moving joy of the butterflies, unheeding the gentle rain. I can hear silence in the chirps of the sparrows, the songs of the parakeets, the shrieks of the peacocks. I can hear silence in the mighty thick pastiches of clouds.

NOTE: I published this blog post as the Nepal earthquake disaster was unfolding. Please give to Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam, Red Cross, Save the Children, UNICEF or one of the other excellent charities providing help and relief.

In nature, silence is the manifest of the divine. There is never a sound out of place. Even with the roar of a waterfall or the rumble of thunder, you can be alone with yourself. The silence and the sound are as one. They envelope you with their inner stillness, their spontaneous expression.

Silence is a necessity for discovering yourself. But in today’s world, silence is becoming a rare and treasured luxury. Silence is one of the characteristics of nature and of profoundly peaceful spiritual centres, like Aurovalley Ashram — and the reason people are drawn to these sacred places.

Aurovalley Ashram, India, silence, yoga, meditation, Himalayas, Rishikesh

On the lawn at Aurovalley Ashram

Here at Aurovalley Ashram in the Garwhal region of Uttarakhand, India, the silence is profoundly peaceful. Surrounded by the Shivaliks, the foothills of the Himalayas, Rajaji National Park, meadows of wild basil and grazing cows, rich farmland and a gentle tributary of the Ganga (Ganges) River, there is little to break the spell.

Since childhood at our family cottage on a lake in central Ontario, Canada, I have loved to be alone in a summery, natural environment. I have distinct memories of paddling the big, wood canoe to the shallow edges of the bay, and dreamily watching the undulating seaweed, darting crayfish and flashing minnows. I lost myself, my sense of time and space, as I immersed in the natural world, becoming one with it if only for a moment.

Blog posts about Aurovalley Ashram

Those moments were laced with eternity, and very similar to what I find at Aurovalley Ashram. Spiritual peace is akin to the carefree innocence of childhood, in many ways, and the sunny flower-filled meadows of this valley, through which the Ganga runs, remind me of those cottage meadows of my youth.

Aurovalley Ashram, India, silence, yoga, meditation, Himalayas, Rishikesh

Flowers at Aurovalley Ashram.

Then, as now, I have loved to soak up the silence of nature. Today, it is probably the most luxurious “commodity” as our world becomes increasingly crowded, industrialized and noisy. Silence is one of the reasons Aurovalley Ashram founder Swami Brahmdev (Swamiji) created this heaven-on-earth.

“Silence is the nature of the divine, it is the expression of your soul,” Swamiji says. “Wherever there is silence, there is soul, there is divine, there is presence. Life expresses itself in silence.”

Silence is a fragrance of soul.

Swamiji recommends that people who come to Aurovalley Ashram experiment with silence. He says, “Watch nature, see how nature expresses herself in silence. Make an effort to be silent and see what happens. Something will awaken in you. Life will become clear, simple. Only in silence can you discover yourself.”

At Aurovalley Ashram, and many other ashrams and spiritual centres, you can actively pursue a silent retreat. You can wear a badge indicating that you are in silence for a day, a week or even longer.

Swamiji explains that most of the time, we are reacting. Reactions are mostly negative, and a waste of energy. If you look at nature, it does not react. Nature expresses her divinity. If we, too, are silent, we can learn to spontaneously express ourselves. “Silence is your true nature.”

Aurovalley Ashram, India, silence, yoga, meditation, Himalayas, Rishikesh

On the World Temple roof, Aurovalley Ashram, India

My experiments with silence

I tried the silent experiment for a day at the ashram. I actually found it a relief. I was given permission to be in my own little world — an introvert’s idea of bliss.

Slowly, over the course of the day, I began to see the world differently. Human noises became almost unbearable, while the sounds of nature became much more joyful.

By late afternoon, everything began to take on a different dimension, as if I was entering an altered state — or a truer way of seeing. I noticed things I had never noticed before.

Silence is the birthplace of your soul.

I walked around the grounds of the ashram to try and take “photos of silence” and saw flowers in a new way, as more detailed and individualistic. I also used my telephoto lens to shoot them, and came up with a new (for me) photography style.

During evening meditation, I felt myself sinking down into the depths, as if diving in the ocean. I thought of the Marabar Caves and the timeless echo from the book A Passage to India.

After dark, I walked on the roof of the World Temple, and saw lights on the distant hill tops that I had never seen before.

Speech is silver, silence is golden.

I saw an illumination, an undulating sense of the world as a living organism. I fell in love with creation. I was punch drunk with love as I danced on the roof, the stars twinkling above, devotional music from a nearby temple wafting on the breeze and the warm spring evening enveloping me with tenderness.

In the silent chamber of my inner being I sensed a spiritual truth often lost in the rush and din of everyday life. I sensed the pulsing oneness of creation, and myself as part of it, alive and flowing, moving, breathing together … on a silent rooftop in north India.

Aurovalley Ashram, India, silence, yoga, meditation, Himalayas, Rishikesh

Sunrise at Aurovalley Ashram, India

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12 Responses to How one day of silence can change your life

  1. RAJAT April 26, 2015 at 10:04 pm #

    Hi Mariellen

    Nice blog. It is so proud to know that people from across the globe understand the value of Yoga and adopt it as a lifestyle for themselves. And no better way to show respect to this tradition than starting an entire blog on Yoga and meaningful travel.

    I sincerely hope that you have a great journey ahead…’Without’ and ‘Within’..

    RAJAT recently posted..An Essential Guide to Summer Camping for NewbiesMy Profile

  2. HR April 27, 2015 at 12:43 am #

    Silence is the beginning and end. Very few actually njoy being alone and listening to sound of silence.

  3. Untraveled Routes April 27, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    Silence truly is a rejuvenating force, thanks for sharing this post and details about the Ashram.

    Untraveled Routes -

  4. Anoop Gupta April 27, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Hi Mariellen

    Great post. Thanks for reminding us about the power of silence. We are so busy running after luxuries of life that we have forgotten our great heritage.

    Such posts reminds us to sit back and look for the real purpose of our existence.


    Anoop Gupta
    Anoop Gupta recently posted..You just need to change your mind-set to become successful in lifeMy Profile

  5. Shirley April 27, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    I really enjoyed this article. One does not have to be religious to enjoy the power of nature and solitude. Silence is a rare commodity in today`s world.
    Shirley recently posted..The Yellow CityMy Profile

  6. swati Bassi April 29, 2015 at 12:57 am #

    One requires to go into silence for self realization, which is necessary for one’s growth and development.
    Thanks for sharing this lovely post.
    swati Bassi recently posted..Anger and DisasterMy Profile

  7. Shrinidhi Hande April 30, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    Interesting. I’ve been wanting to go inside Matrimandir and stay, general visitors can’t do that and the process seemed very complex
    Shrinidhi Hande recently posted..Zenair microlight aircraft flying in Bengaluru.. ExperienceMy Profile

  8. Sleeper Scarf July 27, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    Hello Mariellen,

    I agree with you on that “silence is a fragrance of soul.” Recently, I find it interesting to just sit alone and watch the sunshine in my backyard. It’s very nice to enjoy the sunshine, the breeze, the fresh smell from flowers and trees. Thanks for sharing! I am looking forward to see more of your articles!
    Sleeper Scarf recently posted..Celebrity Airport Look: Victoria BeckhamMy Profile

  9. Arindom Ray April 2, 2016 at 11:34 pm #

    Very well written.

    Silence is must to rediscover self but unfortunately in today’s world, it doesn’t come naturally. One has to find it.

    While going the writing, I felt like being there at the Ashram.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.


    Arindom Ray

  10. Ankit September 6, 2016 at 5:59 am #

    Very nice post. Thank you

  11. Ankit September 7, 2016 at 8:15 am #

    I am feeling so peaceful after reading your post.
    You described in such a way that readers can feel what you were feeling at that time.

  12. Satya Pal chopra February 26, 2017 at 8:08 am #

    It is indeed interesting and intoxicatinging to breath while observing Silence. Here in Ashram today Swami ji said one can be in Sadhna anywhere, everytime and everywhere. What he meant as I understand that let the Divine plan “you have to be just silent observer, an awakened human”. Let the divinity in you take over. Door to divinity is silence. Thus silence your faculties will lead to stillness and that will lead to divinity. Thanks dear blogger Mariellen for explaining your experience of Silence. It did help.

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