Maun is one of the foundational aspects of Indian philosophy. It originates from the sanskrit root ‘mn’ which means ‘mind’. It describes a state of total silence, outer (no talking) as well as inner silence (no thoughts). The practice of Maun helps to grow in non-reactive stillness and sharpen our awareness for inner and outer movements.
I was introduced to Maun when I started my Yoga Teacher’s Training at Paramanand Institute of Yogaic Sciences and Research. My classmates were young international students from all over the world, getting together each with their different background and recent adventures, eager to share experiences, worries as well as endless stories. Most of us coming from a cultural background where the daily meals and the kitchen are the main centers of communication. Now, just there, in front of the kitchen door, some guidelines were written, and one was ‘Maun’:
“Please observe Maun strictly during meals. Maun is self-purification and yogic awakening. Please do not throw your mind’s indigestion on others. A humble reminder that we are not in a restaurant but on the path of Yoga”.
The sitting arrangements facing towards the wall, we were requested to eat in silence and instead of exchanging our excitement about the latest happenings, just simply focus on eating with joyfulness. Grown up as a single child in a quiet environment, I could adapt to it better than others. For the group, though, it was very challenging. Chairs were turned, everyone sat together and the chatting continued.
In one of our classes, our Guruji Dr.Omanand introduced us to the topic ‘Maun’ and advised us to practice it as much as possible. Now, after having practiced Maun for one month for approximately two – three hours per day, I noticed a clear shift in different aspects. Firstly, my awareness increased tremendously. Awareness for noise, for silence, the ability to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary talks (outward communication as well as in the mind), awareness for inner states such as calmness, excitement, agitation, anxiety. Awareness for chains of thoughts that come up and keep polluting the mind.
In ancient scriptures by the Yogi and Guru Nanak, a number of beneficial effects of Maun are given:
*In Maun, we become open and receptive for spiritual teachings as well as higher wisdom and knowledge.
*We become more aware and receptive for the sound of nature and the entire creation
*New energy is created inside us, Pains and sins are decreased
*We get more balanced and thus earn respect from the people around us
*Awareness for the own body as well as Yoga practice is increased
*The practice of meditation will improve
*Maun leads to realization of the true self and the purpose of one’s life.
To attain these benefits, it is suggested to practice Maun for at least 2-4 hours per day, which seems impossible for most of us,but even small periods of daily Maun can yield significant benefits.
The first step is, of course, to stop talking. This can be challenging for many of us – given the fact that we are constantly driven to communicate by our surroundings, expected to socialize, to make a good impression on others. So the easiest way to start Maun is in situations of solitude in which we will not irritate others with this ‘non-social’ behavior. Go for a walk, find some short periods of time in your day where you can just be with yourself. For many of us, unfortunately, our daily routine doesn’t leave much possibility for solitude. So what to do? It’s no problem at all. You can practice non-speaking in the bus, on the way to work or during meals. Another way is, of course, to explain your practice to your social circle – which may take a little confidence but will help your family and friends to understand and even inspireto them to do the same.
Maun does not mean just outer silence. It means silence of inner chatter and silence of mind. And this is the most challenging part. Once we stop talking to others, we normally keep on talking in our mind,scanning through our last appointment at work, the shopping list, the calendar, an argument with the partner, what to make for dinner etc. Those talks are constantly going on in our mind. So the real challenge of Maun is to stop outer AND inner talks. It takes some time but will happen naturally if you stick to your practice. And the technique to decrease inner and outer ‘talk’ is practically the same. We can engage in a conversation – or we can just observe it, listen with full awareness without saying anything. Same goes for the mind: A thought is coming, observe it – and let it go. This is where Maun is already halfway into meditation – and is actually a preparation for these deeper states of connection. Once we have mastered Maun, we are ready to receive the divine flow of energy which can happen to us in states of deep meditation.
My name is Veronika, I’m from Germany and I just completed my studies of Occupational Therapy. I love traveling and Yoga and thus decided to do my 500 hrs Yoga teacher training in India under the kind guidance of Guruji at the Paramanand Institude of Yoga sciences and research, Indore.