In the midst of the busyness and noise of daily life, where can we turn for perspective and refreshment? Is there an antidote from our seemingly relentless pace?
The answer is simple and profound: Practice being quiet. Each day carve out space for rest and renewal.
What I’m suggesting is counter-cultural. Be assured that the dominate culture will do everything in its power, subtle and overt, to get you back on the treadmill of busyness and noise.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You and I have the power to make changes. Here are three steps to help you experience the gift of silence:
First, begin with a question: ‘Where can you go and what can you do, to help you to be quiet, to reflect and relax?” The answers are personal.
Second, put your idea (s) into practice. Carve out at least 30 minutes. Consider when in the day you have time. If you are a busy parent or working a demanding job, this may take some creative planning. Then put your idea into practice. Try something multiple times to give it a chance.
Here are a few ideas (once you’ve turned off your phone): Go for a run or walk, play in your garden, savor a hot drink in a restful setting, yoga, tai chi, walk your dog, cocoon with your cat, stroll in a park, choose a brief reading to quiet your mind…the list is endless.
Third, focus on your breath. Take a deep relaxed breath in and let your breath out. Slow and easy. Relaxed breathing will drop your blood pressure and increase the amount of oxygen in your blood stream. Physiologically your muscles will relax and you’ll think more clearly.
Consider sharing the silence with others. Most religious traditions understand the power of shared silence. For ten years, once per week, I’ve started my day with a small group for Lectio Divina (meditating on Scripture). During the summer we meet at a local beach. The group holds me accountable to show up and shared meditation affirms the importance of being quiet. https://bustedhalo.com/ministry-resources/lectio-divina-beginners-guide
Thomas Keating the Trappist monk and mystic says: “God’s first language is silence. Everything else is a poor translation.” Keating understands that silence is not an end unto itself but a doorway through which we may sense God’s loving presence.
To be clear I am not a natural contemplative. I’m an extrovert. I get a rush out being busy. But I also know that there are gifts to be found in being quiet, that I can find nowhere else.
Being quiet offers perspective and a foundation upon which to stand, from which to live. When we are over stimulated we lose perspective, become unbalanced, anxious.
I invite you to try the following for one month: Carve out 30 minutes a day to be quiet. Do that which helps you slow down. Focus on the relaxed rhythm of your breath… After each week make a mental note as to what you like and don’t like about being quiet, make adjustments to find what works best for you. At the end of one month, if you’d like, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how you’re doing.
I wish you well in being quiet. It’s an acquired ability. Be patient. Enjoy.