The sound of silence

No complaints so far about the Made in America festival.  Even during Cardi B’s closing set last night, which ended with fireworks, it sounded in my apartment no louder than a neighbor playing their stereo too loudly.

I was prepared for worse.  Yesterday morning I had received Tricyle’s Daily Dharma quote:

As we progress, we realize how constricted we are by our discriminating mind: our minds, not our hearing organs, make the distinction between sound and silence. But if you practice listening until you no longer make distinctions, you develop a power that is liberating.

I’ve mentioned before how these quotes often seem timed to what’s going on that day.

When I read the article from which this was extracted, Hsin Tao’s “Listening to Silence,” I remembered that I had done this practice before.  As I sat in a noisy hallway in a gym, waiting for a taiji class to begin, I let my mind relax and pay attention to the nanoseconds of silence between people’s words, between footsteps and the noises of exercise equipment.  I’ve also tried it in airports.  I’ve never listened to the silence for whole days at a time, as Made in America entails, but the practice has helped reduce the stress of waiting, to free me from the feeling of being trapped in a hostile environment.  I can’t say that I’ve ever achieved meditative samadhi, calm concentration, in these situations, more like Morinaga’s samadhi of play for a brief respite.

Yesterday I practiced the samadhi of work, unpacking the final boxes of books and putting them up on shelves, once the music started around 2 pm.  The rheumatologist I saw earlier this week put me on a new medicine to deal with the repeated gout attacks I’ve been having this summer.  She warned me that the medicine could stir up uric acid crystals as it worked on reducing the uric acid in my system.  She was right.  I’ve awakened the last two mornings with every joint feeling swollen and stiff.  That’s why I used the movement of work to loosen up yesterday.  I will go for a walk today to explore ways of getting around all the Made In America fences.

I’m also going to sit for a while.  In addition to listening to the silence, I will practice paying attention to the aches and pains.  I’ve found that when some body part starts hurting or itching while I’m meditating, rather than scratching or stretching or changing position, I can just focus on the physical sensations and how my mind is processing them.  Soon I’m not hurting or itching (as much).  Still don’t know how that works.  You just have to wonder.



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