For anyone seeking balance and serenity, inviting silence into your life is an important practice. Quiet helps you to access your inner stillness, the place from which you renew spiritual strength and uncover your true self.
Depending on your interpretation, it is also the place from which you can connect to the spirit, God, or the life force that connects us to everyone and everything. Practicing silence in this day and age requires a certain amount of commitment. Try these six simple ways to create moments of silence in your life — and take advantage of the ones that are already there.
1. Day and Night
It is a very beneficial practice to begin and end each day in silence. The most natural times of day to experience silence are just before getting up in the morning and just before going to bed at night. In the morning when you wake, don’t get out of bed right away. Instead, lie at rest for 10 to 15 minutes and experience the silence of the moment. Inevitably, you will discover that silence is really full of sound — the birds chirping, your heartbeat, your stomach rumbling, the rustle of leaves, and the sound of distant traffic. When you take the opportunity to experience silence in the morning, you are experiencing your being waking to itself. You become very aware that you are alive and so is the world around you.
You can also take the opportunity to experience silence at night. When everything and everyone seems to have turned in for the night, stop and take in the silence for another 10 to 15 minutes before going to bed yourself. Not only is this activity both relaxing and rejuvenating, it is also an ideal bridge into meditation.
2. Silent Listening
Many meditation exercises begin with the breath, which helps to focus the mind and center the body. You can just as easily begin a meditation with a focus on silent listening. Just as meditation helps sift thoughts until the mind is clear and fluid, a meditation that involves silent listening enables you to sift through the layers of sound around you until you reach the silence within.
3. Vow of Silence
In your practice of silence, you can also make a commitment to refrain from speaking for a couple hours a day, a few days, or even a whole week. You might notice that once you stop speaking and begin listening to the inner and outer silence, your mind is still chattering. It will take some time for your mind to cease making its own noise. If you persist, the mind will grow tired of its chatter. Once your thoughts have stopped spinning and swirling, you will experience profound silence. If this is something that appeals to you, there are many groups that offer guided silent retreats lasting anywhere from three to 10 days long.
4. Communing With Nature
Spending time in nature is a great way to get in touch with the stillness and quiet that resides within you. Walking or sitting by a stream, looking out over a grand vista, or just quietly resting on a rock while listening to the silence is one way of connecting with the bliss and creativity that resides in the natural world, and in you.
5. The Long Commute
Do you have a long commute, or does your drive to work usually involve sitting in traffic? Instead of plugging in your iPod, turning on the radio, or slipping in a book on CD, allow yourself to sit in silence in your car while driving. You will still have to pay attention to driving, but you can take advantage of your car as a cocoon, and enjoy being protected from the many sounds that surround you. Just by paying attention to the silence around you, you will undoubtedly arrive at work more clear-headed and refreshed than you expected.
Last, but not least, if you want to invite more silence into your life, it also means freeing yourself from habit-forming gadgets. Two of the main culprits: television and the cell phone. Music, television, phone conversations, movies, and radio are all things that bring fun and enjoyment into our lives. Yet, once in while, we just need to unplug and tune in, not to the latest reality show on TV, but to our own reality show.
The practice of silence is a simple way to check in with ourselves and with the world around us. Creating moments every day to reconnect with silence and stillness improves state of mind, boosts energy, relaxes the body, and promotes spiritual wholeness.