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The Under Appreciation of Silence by Vyda Bielkus

A few weeks back,  I attended a concert at the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO).  That night everyone in Boston seemed to be rushing to make it on time.   People were jumping out of taxis, hanging up cell phones, the patrons breathing was elevated.   But we all made it, settled into our seats; looking around I noticed the house was full, not a seat was empty.

The concert began in the usual tradition with a violinist calling out the tuning key and the conductor arriving on stage with a round of applause.  As the music began I glanced down at my program and noticed the first symphony had three movements – three distinct pieces that make up the whole sum.  Movements vary in length, tempo etc. and stand alone as a particular part of the entity.  As the first movement of the first symphony came to a pause, suddenly out of nowhere there was a burst of applause.  Those who frequent the symphony would know accepted etiquette is to hold applause until the end of the symphony not the end of individual movements.  As the applause erupted, suddenly the room was full of uncertainty: people looked down at their program books, at each other.  The conductor looked out with a descending gaze as if to say “thanks for ruining the moment.  Don’t do it again.”   But then the applause quitted and the orchestra continued to the next movement.  The music was beautiful, moving in and out, vibrating through the hall and then again just as it was coming to the pinnacle last notes CLAPS CLAPS CLAPS!!  Complete disruption of the meditation.

As I sat waiting for them to finish I began to think ‘why I am getting so mad at the clappers’?  And that is when I realized the quiet is just as important as the sound of the music.  Just like in yoga as you move through a pose or asana and finally land it, there is a moment of this pure silence.  The same is true with the space and time between movements.  If a conductor is good, and the music moving, being in present awareness is very possible. Sound is a wave, a current and so the last note isn’t really over, it just vibrates outward until the vibration is no longer felt

As we settled into the rest of the evening, the excitable audience members finally figured out the protocol.  And those few precious moments of pure stillness would be shared by the collective of us gathered on that night.

There are very few places left to find that magic in the stillness.  The BSO is one of them.  Your yoga mat at Health Yoga Life is another one.   Closing your eyes and tuning into your breath right before you get out of bed maybe another.   Here’s to seeking the quiet more than the noise.

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