We can investigate the silent space from two points of view. The first one is to look at it, as an external space that is defined by everything that is happening outside our body. From the other perspective it is an internal space within our body that is easier to explore when we close our eyes. The simplest characterization of external silent space could be that it is the space defined by conditions that unfulfilled our expectations, or by non-presence of certain expected elements. It is usually described by contrast or relation to something opposite. For example, where you expect sound, but the sound is missing or when the place that is usually crowded with visual information is suddenly blank. Both spaces are separated only by very thin elastic border, our skin.
Did you ever have a chance to experience a complete silence of your body? It could possibly happen during the night, when you are half awake and half asleep, when it felt like your body was not really yours. However, maybe now you would like to go with me a little bit further and find out more about possibilities how to achieve such a silence accompanied by your awareness. Our body is the most perfect, the most efficient, and the best constructed machine ever devised. It is made up of many individual parts that work together in a highly interactive and coordinated way. And I have been very keen to find out if there is some at least partly conscious action that could silent these processes.
It seems that free divers know the answer for the most profound silence achievable by our always working apparatus. They can repeatedly, with each dive, find themselves in a situation when their heartbeat changes because the water triggers an immediate decrease in heart rate. When a person is immersed in a water, physiological changes due to the mammalian diving reflex (even for untrained person), enable the longer tolerance of suspension of external breathing, called apnea. During apnea, there is no movement of the muscles of inhalation and the volume of the lungs initially remains unchanged. It literally causes a stillness in the body on a cellular level. An apneist will swim, dive, glide and being economical in his all movements: no sudden movements, no intense muscular effort are allowed. As part of it, the intellectual activity, the simple functioning of the brain, consumes a lot of oxygen. This is far from being negligible. Therefore, when you are experimenting with apnea, you can be surprised to notice a significant reduction of your results if you’re making complicated calculations in your head. Thus, consciously or unconsciously, the apneist gets used to being non-thinking when he’s diving. If he succeeds in not thinking about anything, his performance shall be better. By doing this, he is using the very basics of meditation techniques without being aware of it. The result is a feeling of well-being. It is the situation when we can witness an internal experience of a non-thinking state – silence, influenced by the external conditions on our body. Where the thin line of our skin becomes negligible and these two worlds, internal and external merge into one.