The Sound of Silence

I usually start a lesson by asking these questions:

How are you doing right now?  How is your body doing?  And is there anything you’d like to work with today?

One particular lady has been coming for lessons for over a year and she said she knew I’d ask her that and the answer was that “my body is silent”.  I felt a thrill.

When I hear a word or phrase I often get to hear the line of lyrics in my head next.  So this one popped into my head:

The Sound Of Silence 
Paul Simon, 1964

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

When we are awake or asleep our body is talking to us.  Sometimes we get messages of pleasure, flow, ease, excitement and bursts of energy and the joy of moving.

Sometimes we get messages of pain, aches, complaints, and of course these important messages are often what motivates people to start having lessons in the Alexander Technique.   They come to find out what the underlying cause of their back pain, neck ache or stress might be.  We teach tools and skills of how to deal with this on a daily basis.

After many years of pain, limiting movements and uneven balance, this person said, “my body is silent”.

Hey!  This is new.  This is exciting.  No pain, no complaints and no worries.  Can you imagine?

Did we stop the lesson there?  No, of course not.  There is still practice to do.  If a violinist came for a lesson and said they hadn’t noticed any problems with playing the latest piece, would you send them home from the lesson?  No.  You might celebrate and relish the moment though.

For one thing, there may be things they hadn’t noticed which were fine for their ears, but might benefit from work for an exam, competition or performance.   The teacher can guide them towards even higher achievements, more refinements and new awarenesses.

And so the lesson began.  We carried on listening to the sound of silence, a happy, contented body-mind in those moments.  We began to notice how this silence could reach into the whole body, the whole person.  We noticed how a conversation began of “how do I keep this and never lose this peaceful body?”

I’m sad to say that is not within my gift.  When we try and hang onto a lovely moment, we often bring tension into our mind and muscles to ‘hold on’ somehow.  We will lose this moment, this sensation, this feeling, this thought.  And then there is space to allow the next moment and what it brings.

Of course, its OK to really enjoy the ease, the happiness, the pleasure, the silence… and its OK to lose this and keep going with the process.  When we lose the lovely sensations, or lack of painful sensations, of course we want to continue with this, but grasping it and trying to fix This moment doesn’t work.

All is not lost.  The fact that we have experienced some peace and quiet in ourselves, can be a moment of great relief and can bring hope where there was none.  It can remind us what is still possible.  And perhaps it can spur us on to keep practising, keep returning to the path, one foot after another.

This path doesn’t lead back to the past experience of silence or pleasure.  This path, this thought, this wish leads us towards the new moment of being reunited with all of who we are.

We can become aware of our support, the air moving in and out of our lungs and whatever information our senses bring us.  We might add a light wish for us to stop hindering what is naturally here, a light wish to agree with the forces of nature and allow ourselves to be just as we are, right now.

This is the next step, the process is the path.

Lucy Ascham is an Alexander Technique teacher and regular meditator with Sheffield Insight Meditation Group.

The Sound Of Silence 
Paul Simon, 1964

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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