I don't always improve upon the silence but It is something that I strive toward via mindfulness, which I work on cultivating through the practice of meditation. I have personally found it to be somewhat difficult to foster right speech without mindfulness because through mindfulness I am more aware of what I'm saying. I have found personally that it is hard to expect mindfulness to unfold in the moment without practicing it regularly. I find it to be like exercising muscles to maintain top fitness.
When I'm not being aware it is easy for my mind to simply go on auto-pilot and thoughts arise without awareness, which are all too often blurted out in verbal excess and disharmony. It seems to me that eventually we won't have to actively concentrate on cultivating mindfulness but that it will be our inner and outer reality spontaneously arising in each present moment without thought.
Until then I still need the training wheels on my bicycle to use an example. I still need to actively concentrate upon what is going on in the present moment, which includes of course being aware of what I am saying and what consequences those words carry. There is a paradox between realizing the imperfection of language and that words in the end can't replace practice and experiencing the moment. However, we still need language to describe how to get to the point where we no longer need so much communication.
In closing I'd like to share some wonderful thoughts on mindfulness meditation from the Tibetan Buddhist master Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche:
No matter what kind of thought comes up, you should say to yourself, “That may be a really important issue in my life, but right now is not the time to think about it. Now I’m practicing meditation.” It gets down to how honest we are, how true we can be to ourselves, during each session.
Everyone gets lost in thought sometimes. You might think, “I can’t believe I got so absorbed in something like that,” but try not to make it too personal. Just try to be as unbiased as possible. Mind will be wild and we have to recognize that. We can’t push ourselves. If we’re trying to be completely concept-free, with no discursiveness at all, it’s just not going to happen.
So through the labeling process, we simply see our discursiveness. We notice that we have been lost in thought, we mentally label it “thinking”—gently and without judgment—and we come back to the breath. When we have a thought—no matter how wild or bizarre it may be—we just let it go and come back to the breath, come back to the situation here.
PHOTO: Portland Japanese garden.