Creating Space for Silence & Stillness
Do you ever feel as if you never have a moment to sit in stillness, to calm your mind, to daydream, or to reminisce about a sweet memory? With the advent of cell phones and computers we can constantly be plugged or tuned in, our minds saturated with a constant flow of information, much of which is useless and merely takes up precious space in our brains. How then can you manage your frenetic lifestyle in an effort to create space for stillness, space for silence?
Learning to let go is the first step in cultivating awareness around being still, being silent. Take a look at your need to control, how involved is it? Are there things in your life that you can let go and let be? For example, are you compulsive about your house? Does every dust particle need to be removed before you can relax? In other words, letting go of the inconsequential and carving out time for silent stillness, comes with prioritizing. Often when we complain that we have no time for such a practice, it’s really means we don’t want to let go of doing. Rather than check Facebook for the fifth time, walk away from your computer, close your eyes and breathe.
It may be challenging and possibly uncomfortable to sit and be silent. Perhaps look at where your distractions originate. Are you afraid to be quiet for fear your feelings will bubble up, or an unpleasant memory, a painful emotion that you’d rather avoid? One way to let go of fears and anxieties is to sit with them, face them, and acknowledge their presence. They are your feelings and rather than running from them (which gives them more power) do an about face. Use your silence to examine and quiet those embellished stories that are just that—stories. Sitting in silence can be therapy for frayed nerves that exacerbate negative feelings and emotions. The more you sit in the quiet recesses of your stillness the more you nourish your ability to cope, to put things in perspective.
Disconnecting is not the same as disassociating. Taking a sensory break gives your imagination the chance to wander the hallways of your creativity. When you are in surround sound twenty-four seven (think about how much you see and hear throughout your day) your senses are captive to whatever is being pumped through them. Playing music influences your feelings, listening to news or hearing about a tragedy impacts your psyche, it may elevate your blood pressure, make you angry, sad, when you see an act of violence or trash thrown on the side of the road, it may create feelings of hopelessness or despair. Sitting in silence, gives you time to center yourself and silence the noise. To remember, you are here, breathing, you are enough right in that very moment.
Studies have shown that silence and stillness have a profound effect on our health. Animals that can’t hear one another over the roar of cars, construction, motorboats and planes, fail to thrive. They can become despondent, depressed. The same holds true for human beings. People that live with chronic noise, are distracted and become agitated more easily. They find it difficult to concentrate and quite literally can’t hear themselves think. Being distracted leaves little time for self-exploration, reflection. Why is inner reflection necessary? Without it, wisdom and insight can’t be gained. Without it, we simple charge through life never stopping to appreciate the little moments, like the first time your baby smiles at you. Or being with your grandmother as she passes to the next world.
All of the great philosophers, sages, contemplatives and those who inspired millions, people like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, all sat in silence to listen to their inner voices, to hear the sound of stillness. You don’t have to be a monk, a nun, or a contemplative to practice silent stillness and gain its innate benefits. All you have to do is give yourself permission to close your eyes, to be still, to breathe knowing you are worth the gift of silent stillness.