Simple Guidelines for Savoring Quietness
In Transform Your Business with Intentional Silence, I told you how regularly taking time for quiet and solitude can initiate powerful and positive change in your life. Now, I’m going to share some quick and easy guidelines to get you started.
Without practice, most people have trouble sitting alone in quietness, doing absolutely nothing. Commit to taking maybe 5 minutes at first, then gradually add time until you can enjoy 15 minutes or more of deliberate solitude each day.
Rediscovering the Forgotten Luxury of Silence
Check out these tips to help you begin cultivating the habit of solitude:
Prepare your physical space. You can use an entire room, such as an office, or extra room at home, or you can use an area in a larger space. Whichever you choose, it’s imperative that you prepare the space so that it invites calm and relaxation. Empty the space of clutter, so that it’s either bare or very neat and tidy. You can designate a certain chair or bench, or you might decide to sit on a rug or short stool. Eliminate all external distractions as best you can by turning off TVs, radios, cellphones, computers, etc.
Prepare your mental space. When you arrive at your space, you probably won’t be ready to begin right away. Give yourself time to pull yourself away mentally from the thoughts and worries swirling in your mind. Don’t suppress the thoughts, just notice them and gently pull yourself out of their grasp.
Deliberately enter the quiet. Become aware of the stillness around you. Still your mind in the same way. Your mind will rebel against this emptying with distractive thoughts and urges. You may feel tempted to mentally plan the rest of your day, set goals, ruminate over a conversation, or a looming challenge. Notice how your mind tries to fill the silence with these mental tasks and thought-noise. Practice just sitting still and not acting upon these urges. This will teach you to be at peace with the energy of silence.
Acclimate yourself to the meaning of silence. During your quiet time, you’ll begin to notice sounds you didn’t hear before: a clock ticking, a neighbor’s door banging shut, birds chirping, a dog barking, your air conditioner humming. As you move further into the silence you’ll become more aware of these and other sounds.
The lesson here is that silence isn’t an absence of sound, instead, it’s an elevated form of listening. These ambient sounds come and they go from your awareness. They don’t diminish your silence, they are part of it.
Listen. Stay still and listen for what the silence calls you to hear. Perhaps it’s that small still voice that guides you to an answer you need; or an ‘a-ha!’ moment of innovative creativity that comes out of nowhere. Listen intently to your interior self and regain knowledge of your unique talents and abilities that the noise of this life caused you to forget. Savor the quiet and enjoy a luxury of a practice that too many have forgotten even exists.
Isolate Yourself to Find Yourself
Can you commit to regularly practicing intentional solitude? Just a few minutes to begin with, then a bit more. You’ll struggle at first, everyone does, but you’ll eventually begin to appreciate this window of deliberate emptiness in each day.
You’ll have a clear mind and a deeper sense of self awareness. Your decisions – both large and small — will arise out of the confidence that you’ve taken time to think things through. People will notice that you don’t speak before thinking; that you act with empathy and compassion even when you must do the hard things that some may not like. You’ll have the tools to enjoy profoundly successful workdays, everyday.
Everyday is the best day.