15 May Mindful Monday | Stillness, silence, insight, clarity
“If there is no stillness, there is no silence. If there is no silence, there is no insight. If there is no insight, there is no clarity.”
Silence seems like a luxury these days. We are constantly interrupted in our waking (and sleeping) life by people, machines and random ambient noise.
Even when spending time alone “relaxing,” most of us have music, television or some other streaming sound around us, fracturing our attention.
While some of us may consider this low level or not so low level of sound to be the modern day version of “quiet” or stillness, it’s not.
One study in 2008 found that the average person only gets 63 minutes of peace and quiet a day.
Given that in 2017, the average person now spends 5 hours a day online, I wonder if 63 minutes is still possible. I doubt it.
What we lose in all this noise is clarity.
If you can’t find enough time to be quiet and focus on what you need to do for yourself (and others) for the day, then your approach to everything will be muddled.
You will kill your ability to be proactive and strategic and the best you can hope for is a not so clumsy reactivity.
The antidote for anxiety and stress is preparation. But you can’t prepare if you can’t think clearly.
Fortunately, even in this noisy world, there are plenty of opportunities to make time for yourself to be silent and still.
You won’t “find” it, you have to make it.
I spend 5 minutes every morning meditating before I get out of bed.
I also do some of my best thinking in the shower. I’m usually alone (!) and there’s nothing to distract or interrupt me.
The result? I am more focused and able to guide my tasks and team so we can have a productive day.
Johns Hopkins also found that the effects of meditation rival anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication. That seems more of a recommendation than I can offer!
If you find your resistance rising up at the very thought of mediation and immediately start thinking of silent nuns, monks or priests locked away for hours doing “nothing,” relax.
Technology makes mediation super easy. There are apps and websites for every level of interest and experience.
Whether you have ever mediated or not, you will find great tools and resources to support your efforts.
Here are 3 to start you off:
- My friend and co-teacher for the Mindful Life Toolbox, Susan Piver emails a 10-minute meditation to all Open Heart Project subscribers every Monday for free.
- Calm is a great app that has mediation and exercises to help with anxiety and sleep.
- Use an app like Toggl (a great time tracking app) or a simple timer on your phone to sit still for just 2 minutes a day in silence, focusing on your breath. Try that for a week and then each following week, slowly increase the time up to 5 minutes and see how that shifts your ability to think clearly.
Remember that doing this will not only help you, but also those close to you as you gain greater awareness of what is happening around you and how you want to participate in it.
I promise you will see progress and increase your happiness. The more clarity you have, the simpler and better your quality of life will be.