Mauna—Becoming Aware of Our Words

Although it is not often talked about, mauna is very much a part of the yoga system. It is sometimes called “yoga silence.”

One of the main goals of yoga and its various processes is to gain control over the senses because, if we are the servants of our senses, constantly struggling to meet their every demand, we will never be happy.

The yogic scriptures tell us that of all the senses, the tongue is the most difficult to control. But if we can learn to control the tongue, it then becomes very easy to bring our other senses under control.

One aspect of controlling the tongue is controlling what comes out of our mouths. If you think about it, so much of what people say is either unnecessary or even damaging—to themselves or to others, such as gossiping, rumor-mongering, and faultfinding. The urge to speak is very strong and it’s not so easy to stop. But by practicing mauna, we gradually gain control of that urge and redirect it, and this makes us more likely to succeed in yoga.

Some people are under the mistaken impression that mauna means not making any sound at all, but actually, mauna means not making any mundane sound as distinct from Yoga Sound.

Mauna is made up of two parts:

1. Not making mundane sound vibrations.

During mauna, one’s mind will entertain many thoughts and the temptation to verbalize these thoughts will be very strong. Mauna means preventing your mouth from verbalizing these thoughts.

By practicing mauna, you begin to experience how your mouth makes sound spontaneously. So the first step in becoming the master of your tongue is to refuse to follow the urge to verbalize your many thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. Being able to control the urge to speak will bring you a great sense of freedom and empowerment.

2. Making transcendental or spiritual sound.

You do this by practicing Yoga Sound Meditation, either by repeating the yoga sounds softly to yourself, for example, while practicing japa, or by any of the other meditation techniques you can find in my Easy Meditation for Everyone kit.

To practice mauna, set aside a certain period of the day or maybe a certain time one day a week when you make the commitment to avoid speaking about mundane topics. Instead, you practice one form of Yoga Sound or another. Once you get into the habit of practicing mauna, then on the days when you don’t, you’ll find that you will be able to catch your tongue before it says something unnecessary, critical, or mundane.

From time immemorial, yogis have known that sound vibration affects our consciousness as well as the consciousness of those around us. By controlling the tongue, we can determine what our consciousness will be. In other words, we can spiritualize the mind and heart by regularly practicing mauna.

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