It Begins with Silence: INTRO

To train the mind you need a basic appreciation of how it works. Books and explanations offer some direction, but in the end you really have to look for yourself. Both the questions and the answers that really matter lie within your mind, so the substance of this book consists more of clues, encouragements and challenges than of explanations.

Mindful reflection is a lifestyle. If you’re looking for a convenient technique to escape your problems and be transported to a stress-free peace of mind, you won’t find it here. In fact, you won’t find it anywhere. Despite our weakness for convenient solutions, we all know deep down that personal stress is inseparable from the way we live and deal with ourselves and others. Facing up to this fact of life demands a depth of integrity that can be intimidating, but that’s also deeply rewarding. The alternative, avoidance, pretends to be an easy way out but actually resorts to subconscious trickery – a taxing and fruitless denial of our true feelings.

What you will find here is a depiction of consciousness in transformation. The way of mindful reflection is not to simply replace ‘wrong’ thoughts with ‘right’ ones, but to gradually refine your thinking until you’re able to let go of compulsive explanations altogether, and face reality head-on. By directing your attention inward, you identify conceptual knots, find breathing room and begin to change. What happens is neither magical nor superconscious – but it is intuitive and paradoxical. For example, as you learn to quieten the thoughts, your power to reason and conceptualise grows sharper; as you detach yourself from expectations of life, its joys are enhanced.

The Buddha didn’t advocate mindful reflection just for the high-minded pleasures of living in the here and now. This common misunderstanding both trivializes and undermines its full potential. Used as a tool and applied with energy and patience, mindful reflection can bring to your attention the endless shifting of all you know and the consciousness with which you know it. The stressed mind leaves its shaky trail in the imbalance provoked by life’s persistent uncertainty. Our gut reactions to this uncertainty set up the defensive illusions through which we try to secure ourselves, but which only keep us running round in circles. This repeated observation alone, without any additional rationalisation, is a profound enabler of long-term change. However, the Buddha didn’t stop there. All that he taught points this change toward awakening to the full potential of consciousness – a permanent letting-go.

I wrote this book for the same reason I teach. To share the gift I received from my teachers, to refine my own understanding and to address a matter of fundamental importance to us all – human happiness. I wish for you the reader, and for all my students, the same fulfilment I’ve found, and more. To purchase It Begins with Silence on Kindle, or as an old-fashioned book, click here.

Author: Stephen Schettini

Stephen Schettini is a former Buddhist monk and teacher of mindfulness. He lives near Montreal with his wife, life coach Caroline Courey (see

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