“The Joy of Quiet” — New York Times

by Gary Kaplan on January 17, 2012

A wonderful article by Pico Iyer in the New York Times—“The Joy of Quiet”—speaks to the importance and enjoyment of ‘quiet time’, a time apart from the frenetic world, including the Internet. Taking time out for rest or recreation is nothing new. Yet, recently more and more of us have become enamored with finding our own quiet time.

When Maharishi Mahesh Yogi first brought the Transcendental Meditation technique to the west over fifty years ago, he proclaimed to a group of eager listeners that ‘rest is the basis of activity’. There were many quizzical looks. Of course, we all knew about the importance of rest and a good night’s sleep, but we didn’t quite grasp how activity could have its basis in rest. Then he explained that for rest to be truly rejuvenating it must be the type of rest that allows the physiology to settle to its ‘ground state’, a state characterized by profound physiologic rest and at the same time a new style of brain activity, coherent cerebral activity involving left and right hemispheres, from the frontal to the occipital regions.

This new type of rest epitomizes the true ‘joy of quiet’. That same taste of bliss and contentment that we hope to savor briefly as we retire from our usual busy lives to enjoy a quiet time, perhaps a vacation away from work in a wonderful natural setting, is ours whenever we close our eyes and start the TM technique. This is because the special rest characterized by TM is experienced by us as ever-increasing waves of bliss, the most profound contentment – an experience of expansion, and unboundedness.

The real ‘joy of quiet’ has two aspects: the objective aspect of ‘quiet’ – a profound rest for the physiology, and the subjective aspect of ‘joy’ – at its most profound, a state of bliss. But, TM goes beyond giving us the ‘joy of quiet’ during meditation. It brings us the ‘joy of quiet’ in our activity outside of meditation. As we culture the habit of diving deep within on a daily basis, the subjective and objective aspects of the ground state of the physiology begin to permeate our waking state of consciousness. We begin to live the ‘joy of quiet’ while in the midst of the most dynamic activity. This is a life worthy of living. As Maharishi would say: “It’s such a joy.”

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Gary-Kaplan

Dr. Gary Kaplan

Dr. Gary Kaplan is a neurologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology at Hofstra University School of Medicine. Dr. Kaplan received the Albert H. Douglas Award from the Medical Society of the State of New York for outstanding achievements as a clinical teacher interested in promoting and improving the medical education of physicians. He is also a nationally recognized expert on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on stress-related illnesses, and he appears regularly on CNN, NBC and CNBC and other national television programs speaking about the latest research on Transcendental Meditation and its effects on health.

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