Question - I cannot find silence. Even in meditation I am thinking about what to do, how to do it, if I am doing it right or wrong. The more I use my practice to eliminate conflict or suffering, the more it is present. I am constantly thinking about this.
Reply - Consider all of the problems that one focuses on, all the distractions, obsessions, the inner dialogues and narration, are all together, a means of distraction from coming to rest as True-Nature, Presence.
Arising tendencies create a perceived construct, by which one maintains a belief of separation from that which one seeks, by means of the identification with this construct as the imagined separate self. This brings longing, and this is suffering. This pattern, tendency, conditioning, is maintained by resistance, the safety of familiarity, and the apparent comfort of suffering itself, by which one is identified. The belief of longing is that the answer is 'out there', outside, external, as other, in the future, or somewhere. This is the construct of self.
That which is called struggle or suffering, is also that which one brings full attention and energy to as avoidance. Here is the sense of separation, and the belief and misunderstanding that Presence is not available or accessible in the moment. This is then used to support and validate the notion and belief that one is lacking, not worthy, or deserving of Love and Presence. Here the knot of right and wrong takes hold. This is the means by which self is determined, and the longing for True- Nature, Presence, arises.
The conditioned mind has fear, and is threatened by the longing for True-Nature and freedom which naturally arises from suffering. That which remains separate will maintain, amplify, and expand, the very distractions and associated conflicts and mind engagements one is seeking freedom from. That which resists persists. This can be expressed by self as emotion, deeper suffering, physical body changes, discomfort, overwhelm and stress. This is the expression as self.
The Awareness of the body-mind can discriminate the intention of self. When one is attempting to use practice to bypass, get rid of something, negating, the body-mind knows and responds. The divided self believes it can trick self. True acceptance is of a different quality and nature, which conveys and embodies this.
When one is neither resisting, fighting, challenging, attempting to push what is present away as avoidance, or indulging and identifying with it, the distractions, obsessive mind, and inner dialogue, will recede, diminish, and dissolve.
One is not the voice of mind or the thoughts that arise. One is that which listens, and that which is heard arises as silence. Mind, like sound, arises from, and is held and supported by the ground of silence. Silence, the apparent background, is eternally present. In practice, silence is present even in a storm. When mind is active, one can listen to and rest as silence, which is the ground of that which arises. The thought arises you cannot find silence, where is silence not? One is the spaciousness of silence.
When the mind is active, or when suffering is present, one can inquire, is it true that silence and stillness are not available, or that Presence is not here?
Without resistance, challenging, or struggling with what arises, one can simply notice silence. Ever present, one can sense, feel, know, be silence. One can rest as the Awareness of silence, as silent Awareness. That is Presence, and one is That.