Need a little R & R? Try one of these practices in silence!
by Tessa Bender
When was the last time you spent a whole day in silence? Can you even remember one? If you can, what was it like? Did you go crazy thinking of a million things, or did you feel a peace and stillness that you haven’t felt in a while? We live in a fast paced, ultra-connected, high-expectations, efficient world. This world has allowed us to connect to cultures thousands of miles away, cure diseases once known as incurable, and innovate new technologies that will make our jobs much easier. However, there is a toll to being constantly connected through email, phone, and social media. If we are constantly in the mode of input-output and we don’t ever pause to just simply be, our nervous system will be overloaded, and we will burn out. There are scientific studies that show that silence is incredibly healing and regenerating to the body and the brain. This is why many people are starting to turn towards the power of silence to tune out of the noise and tune into themselves. What I mean by silence here, is no noise, talking, texting, or communicating in anyway (including looking at emails and social media).
Spend the Morning in Silence
If you want to experiment with this practice, try it out for just a morning. Do you usually wake up and go straight to your phone to check email, Instagram, or some other app? Whether you like it or not, this information that you’re taking in will have an impact on your mood and wellbeing.
Imagine that you wake up feeling pretty good and you open your phone to check your email. Sitting at the top of your inbox is an email from your boss who was expecting you to be finished with a project by now. This immediately puts you into panic mode as you rush through your morning to get to work. If we set the expectation with our bosses that we answer emails at 7am, they will assume they’ll get a response. First off, make a boundary with work and life that you won’t answer emails until you have been awake for one hour, if that’s possible for you to do. See what it is like to spend the first half hour of your morning in silence. When you wake up, maybe instead of checking your phone, you can focus on practicing affirmations, or maybe sitting in meditation. These both have powerful boosts for your ability to self-regulate stress and your overall wellbeing.
Perhaps spend time journaling (this doesn’t count as communication because you’re not writing to anyone but yourself!). Journal about anything that comes to mind or pick some prompts from online. Whatever you choose to do in this half-hour or hour of silence, make it something that nourishes your heart. This way you will start your day your way, without influence from the outside world.
The power of Silence Outdoors
The next time you go on a walk or hike in nature, try putting your phone on silence. Taking photos of every little flower, tree and creature may be nice after the fact, but you’ll miss the experience of just being where you are. Try finding a cozy place to sit and closing your eyes and try a listening meditation. When you are silent, you can listen more deeply to the sounds that are around you. Perhaps tune into the sound of a bird in the distance, the rustling of leaves in a tree, or the scampering of animal feet on the ground. This practice of the power of silence can take us out of the drama of our lives and remind us that we are deeply connected to the nature that surrounds us.
Eat a Meal in Silence
So many of us either eat our food so fast to get back to work, or eat our food in front of our computer. Try this on your next meal by yourself or with a friend. See what it is like to slow down and eat in silence. You can try out mindful eating while you’re at it.
Take a look at the food in front of you before you dig in and imagine where all of the pieces of your food came from. Imagine the farmers who grew the food, the people who distributed it to your local market, the person who cooked it for you (or you if you cooked it yourself!). Giving gratitude and appreciation to all that it took to get this particular meal in front of you. When you’re ready for your first bite, bring one bite to your mouth, smelling it first. Finally you can gently place it on your tongue. Let it sit there for a moment before chewing and see what you can taste. Then chew the bite slowly; noticing all the different flavors connected to the different pieces you looked at before you had your first bite.
This practice helps us to slow down and recalibrate in a fast paced world.
Try a Silent Meditation Retreat
One of the greatest ways to experience the benefits of silence is to go on a silent meditation retreat. There are many centers around the world that host 1-day to 3-month to 3-year silent retreats. At these retreats you will spend all day in silence and most of the day in meditation. The first few days you may notice your mind going a little wild. Eventually, you may get an experience of stillness in the silence. Though these retreats are hard work at times, participants usually leave feeling renewed having spent time without any expectations of output.
Spending time in silence helps you to go from the “doing” mind to the “being” mind. This practice is incredibly healing for the body and brain. May you have a peaceful experience of the power of silence!
Photo: Liam Simpson
Try out one of these practices and share your experience with the Till Community by commenting below!