A week or so after my fairly long meditation on the need for non-verbal communication to become a key part of our lives, I feel vindicated. The reason – I happened to watch a charlie chaplin movie (payday) – and with practically no dialogues at all, the cast managed to get us “all in”. We laughed and delighted in Chaplin’s antics while the underlying theme tugged at our hearts. The movie (like all chaplin movies) is a parable of his day – and you cannot not be transported into his world and partake of it.

So I got busy trying to see if really there were other forms where emotions were conveyed directly – not through the screen of dialogue. Our national television provided the first breakthrough through a “kuchipudi” programme, which is essentially the retelling of a story through emotions expressed through a traditional dance form. All Indian classical art forms have a way of dressing up the dancers and having them emote through “mudras” – with fantastic results – you feel the emotion directly and immediately. For those unacquainted with this, think “mime” – its probably the closest cross-border cousin.

Come to think of it, “dancing” has always been excellent at communicating expressions best. From the modern discotheque to the gypsy dances to african masai varieties – all of them probably communicate expressions more clearly for the populace – the body does seem better at expressions without the lens of the mind.If you don’t believe me – ask a dancer what he/she was thinking during her performance and get a “thinking – are you mad?” stare from her…

Silence too it transpires conveys emotions very well. Its passive though, pervading the room with the existing context. At funerals, the silence is heavy with sadness. At the temple the silence is pregnant with devotion. With a loved one, the silence lends comfort.Think about it, its profound.

Which brings me back to the starting point – or rather just after that. I happened to rediscover an old favourite – an Eckart Tolle rendering of “Silence and Stillness” and turned it on – wondering if it would still work its old magic on me. It did, a kind of blissful silence (or stillness) descended upon me – his sonorous voice and the plentiful silences between the words were almost surreal. I moved slowly into a very agreeable mood, compassionate, understanding..you get the idea! Eckhart’s recording is a perfect blend – and I really can’t tell which was more potent – his words or his silence. Or perhaps they really aren’t two different things!

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