Vijay Eswaran is a highly successful Malaysian entrepreneur, philanthropist, international speaker, and author. He is the founder and executive chairman of the QI Group of Companies, a multinational conglomerate with headquarters in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. The QI Group operates in more than 30 countries worldwide. In 2005, Eswaran founded the RYTHM Foundation to promote community development, women’s empowerment, and support for children with special needs in underserved communities in emerging economies. He also established the Quest International University (QIU) in 2011, which has become one of the fastest-growing private universities in Malaysia.
His latest focus has been helping professionals and entrepreneurs, specifically, millennials, unlock their full potential through the use of his own secret to success, the Sphere of Silence. The technique and its philosophy described in his book “In the Sphere of Silence,” published in 2005, are designed to improve an individual’s focus, energy, and productivity.
“Much of the appeal of the practice of Sphere of Silence lies in the practical instruction contained therein. It’s not about sitting on a rock in a lotus pond trying to figure out the meaning of the universe. It’s about taking control of your life. And it’s almost impossible to take control of your life if you can’t even hear yourself think. Not being able to hear yourself think simply means that you are so caught up in the continuous cacophony of turbulence that envelopes modern life – better known as the ‘rat race’ – that you forget to go within yourself.”
For Eswaran, the practice is essential to his success. He developed the Sphere of Silence from a combination of personal experience and ancient wisdom and has been practicing some form of silent reflection since his youth.
“It is not meditation, and it is not a religious practice of any kind. It’s derived from the art of silence I learned from my grandfather at a very young age. My grandfather believed that abstaining from speaking for a set period of time each day brought him inner peace and made him a better listener.”
His practice evolved as he was exposed to other practices around the world that used silence as the foundation for achieving various goals and states of mind. After college, during his gap year, Eswaran had the opportunity to experience life as a lay monk in a Franciscan friary in Italy. During his time at the friary, he found that the Brothers regularly practiced a vow of silence. As he dived deeper into his exploration of the power of silence, he discovered that a ritual practice of silence is not unique to any particular religion or culture. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all utilize the practice of silence in one form or another. Successful individuals throughout history have also been known to incorporate silence into their routines.
“Winston Churchill had his quiet time. So did Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. Leonardo da Vinci preferred to work in silence, even Picasso. Almost any artist, politician or leader has had times when they chose to be alone. It may not be this particular discipline, but they chose to work within the silence that makes them who they are. These people set the highest benchmarks and they competed against themselves, not the world, and the standards they set were higher than anyone else’s.”
In fact, many of today’s most famous and influential entrepreneurs use quiet time in some form during their daily routines. Though not specifically the Sphere of Silence method, all of them share the practice of daily silence as an important component to their success.
“I find that practicing the [Sphere of Silence] is the ultimate weapon against the assault on our senses and the insanity that prevails around us today. To many, it may seem that no quiet could exist amidst the din and racket of an ever-blaring world.”
Eswaran has taken his personal technique and incorporated it into his global business network. He believes that the practice can be an effective life hack for the millions of professionals who are dealing with burnout, anxiety, depression, and a general lack of productivity. He explains that the practice doesn’t affect the way that he does business; instead, it affects him directly. “If you become better, the business that you do becomes better,” he says. “Ultimately, the Sphere of Silence is about you, not the business.” Because of this, he encourages his associates to use it to begin the day with more focus, energy, and motivation. Eswaran hopes that by sharing the practice of the Sphere of Silence with a wider audience, he can help transform the lives of thousands of people.
“While in the Sphere of Silence, your thoughts become arrows. Without it, your thoughts are like water over stone. They do not penetrate but merely splash around. But if your thoughts are arrows, every single one of them penetrates, and penetrates deeply… Great leaders from the past have not necessarily been good speakers, but the thought that they fired from their bows penetrate our hearts to this day.”
The technique is a continual and evolving method that improves a person’s ability to visualize and obtain goals. In the process, it drastically improves focus, energy, organization, and creativity, which is why Eswaran attributes so much of his personal success to the technique.
Eswaran developed the method to help people question and challenge the standards in their lives that they have accepted and grown accustomed to. He feels that many young professionals and entrepreneurs have allowed themselves to fall into a trap by letting their habits dictate their destinies. After all, “from word to deed, then deed to habit, habit to character, and character to destiny.” Using the Sphere of Silence allows us to break the routines that trap us and keep us from achieving our full potential. Realizing that our thoughts are responsible for creating our destiny means that minding our patterns of thought is essential to creating meaningful changes in our lives, thus the power of silence.
The practice is much more than simply devoting one hour every morning to silence; it is purposeful and structured. The Sphere of Silence is divided into several parts, each designed to encourage positive action in various aspects of a person’s life. The practice includes goal setting, self-reflection and analysis, reading, writing, and time for the faithful to commune with a higher power. All of this is carried out in complete silence: no cell phones, no music, no disturbance.
“Like other parts of the body, the mind initially does not want to be exercised. A person who has never exercised before would rather get shot than get started. But once he gets started and enjoys the benefits, it becomes an addiction… Once the mind has been given the liberation and freedom it has been denied, it doesn’t want to stop. And the effects are felt in all aspects of your life.”
The practice will truly strengthen your mind, and in the process, it will give you the ability to make the most of your day, no matter what your ultimate goal may be. There are three steps or “paths,” as Eswaran calls them, that comprise the Sphere of Silence: The “Path of Duty,” the “Path of Knowledge,” and the “Path of Devotion.” Eswaran believes that aligning these three paths helps center the mind giving the individual more control over their life. Each of the three steps is performed within a specific time frame, and they are broken up into goal setting, reflection and analyses, enriching the mind, and focusing on improving short-term memory.
“If your life has to mean something, you must start today. Every one of us has the potential to do extraordinary things. It is our duty to identify and harness that potential. But doing the same thing every day will not deliver new results. To change the results you are getting, you need to change what you are doing. You must transform the way you live your life. Changing the way you live requires changing how you think. Changing how you think requires changing what you have come to believe or accept about life. This is very hard. So hard that even when you so desperately want to change, you prefer to hang on to the misery because it is familiar, and it is comfortable. This is the paralyzing death of the comfort zone.”
The Path of Duty takes up the first half of the Sphere of Silence technique. It includes 10 minutes to set goals for the day, 10 minutes to assess your progress on the goals set the day before, and 10 minutes to develop new goals for the future. One important part of the process is to take note of any unmet goals and assess the reasons behind them. Eswaran points out that the events of tomorrow develop from what you intend to do today, so you cannot structure today without knowing why or how yesterday happened. In essence, understanding yesterday is the key to tomorrow.
The Path of Knowledge makes up the next 20 minutes of the process. You have 10 minutes to read a book or article for your own personal enrichment and growth and 10 minutes to write a summary of what you just read. This will not only help you absorb and understand the text, but it will also strengthen your short-term memory, which is an important skill for any successful individual. According to Eswaran, “your short-term memory is the biggest, most versatile, most powerful, most flexible tool that you can use in your day-to-day life.”
The last 10 minutes, or the Path of Devotion, acts as an important grounding process, like a cool down after a good workout. The conclusion to the technique is for connecting with a higher power, such as God or the Universe, whichever you prefer. This part of the Sphere of Silence is personal and is not intended to define or dictate how the process works.
“The Sphere of Silence makes you analyze the mistakes you have committed. Essentially, we will find that we repeat the same mistakes. We’re not creating new ones. That is why we find ourselves living in a rut. If allowed to continue, it becomes a force of habit that will, over time, define our destiny. The Sphere of Silence halts this process by making us stop and think.”
Eswaran believes that the most important thing in life is to seek the truth, and the best way to seek the truth is through cultivating intentional thoughts, speech, and actions. He suggests that after practicing for 21 days, the Sphere of Silence will become a habit. Refining this habit of silence and introspection will make you more effective because the technique will help you channel your energies to their max. Eswaran notes that practicing this self-care for the mind also cultivates more versatile and nuanced vocabulary for speech and writing.
“Luck is not an issue. The world is, invariably, a fair place. What you sow is what you reap. If you failed, you needed to fail. Failure is a step forward. Failure is paying your dues. Success does not come in the beginning; nor should it be the end. It should be a consequence, nice but not necessary. Success is not about results. Ultimately, success is about growth.”
The Sphere of Silence is a simple resource for anyone who is looking to get the most out of their day. The technique speaks to millennials, professionals, entrepreneurs, and executives who desire to engage in their own personal development and growth. It emphasizes the practice of self-care, which has become increasingly important for lowering the risk of depression, burnout, and trauma; decreasing anxiety; and improving positive body image. Eswaran highlights that when you treat your body and mind with kindness, you start to like yourself more. When you are kinder to yourself, you realize that you deserve more. “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not achieve anything with it,” he says. “Dedicate one hour out of 24, and you get 23 back in your control.”
Specialists agree that self-care has less to do with the specific activity that you choose to practice and more to do with the function of the activity. As part of a strong mental workout, Eswaran believes that there are three essential questions that we should ask ourselves every day: First, who are we? Or rather, who have we become? Second, where are we today, and how did we get here? And finally, where are we going and why?
Asking these questions on a daily basis is important because the answers will change gradually over time. By simply asking and analyzing the answers to these questions in silence, you can build up your mind’s inner strength and purpose. This process of continual reflection keeps us in touch with reality and helps us develop our thoughts, focus, and vision. Constantly exercising your mind in this way over time will give your actions greater resolve and intention.
“We have grown accustomed to creating a barrier between who we are and who we want the world to perceive us as. We walk around with this facade until we start assuming the roles we create. This masquerade becomes more real than the truth of who we once were – and invariably the overwhelming resistance we would need to face and overcome.”
Eswaran explains that when practicing the Sphere of Silence, there is no need to have a specific objective in mind. The simple process of practicing this personal improvement technique every day is enough to create meaningful change in your life. The effort and process are more important than the end result. It is in trying every day that the true result is acquired. There is no proper time or place to apply the process; the important thing is to practice every day, like breathing.
“Eventually, there are people who, without trying very hard – simply by virtue of their being – manage to achieve being in the Sphere of Silence for an hour every day. They actually gain from the process. The trying is fundamental to the change.”
For many of us, the idea of devoting any hour a day to self-improvement seems like too much. However, the vast body of evidence surrounding the power of silence and its benefits for the mind and body is too significant to brush aside. From less stress and anxiety to more creativity, clarity, and productivity, there is obviously more to the Sphere of Silence than meets the eye. Being in the Sphere of Silence pushes you out of your comfort zone, which is how you grow. It challenges your perception and forces you to evaluate areas in your life that are stagnating.
“There is absolutely no high on this planet like feeling alive, especially when you can change the way you live. If you feel like a piece of wood floating without purpose, being picked up by every wave and passing current, put a sail on that driftwood. Use the wind and cross the seas.”
The ultimate way to change who we are is by instigating change within ourselves, which also helps us motivate others. By using the Sphere of Silence to gradually raise your standards every day, you will become a natural leader; but if you drop your standards, you will instead be led by others.
Eswaran is on a mission to help individuals take back the day and achieve the potential that they already have locked inside. The ideas and concepts behind the Sphere of Silence have proven successful throughout the ages. There is little doubt that this method will enhance your life by boosting your productivity, increasing your energy, and improving your mental health.
“When you practice the Sphere of Silence, your energy starts to radiate, and you will be at peace. You will be a source of strength and vitality to others. Then, wherever you go, whoever you meet, they will perceive this in you.”
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Photo provided by the author.