Making Time for Silence

Making Time for Silence

“Silence is a source of great strength.” — Lao Tzu

How much of your day is spent in silence? If you have a busy career and personal life, probably not very much.

Many people living their modern lives in the Western World at least are constantly surrounded by people and noise. In fact, going to sleep may be the only time they're not constantly being bombarded by other people’s voices, traffic, music, and sounds from all their noisy devices.

The Benefits of Sitting in Silence

Sometimes it can be hard enough to find even just an extra five minutes to sit in silence. But the mental, emotional, and even physical health benefits are worth it if you can schedule it in. Quiet time can:

  • remove you from other people’s thoughts/expectations that you’re worried about or being influenced by;
  • give you the opportunity to tune into what you’re truly feeling and desiring;
  • make it easier for you to hear and listen to your intuition; and
  • physically relax the muscles in your body to relieve stress and tension.

If you use your quiet time for a deeper meditation, that’s totally up to you, but quiet time itself can be considered a simple form of meditation if you choose to use it to turn your awareness inward. Here are some ideas for how to find a bit of extra time in your day to be alone in silence for just a few minutes.

Get up earlier than everyone else. If you have a family or live with roommates, chance are it can get hectic in the morning when everyone is getting ready to go where they need to go. But if you get up even just 10 minutes earlier than the earliest riser, you can sip your coffee or tea in silence and think purposefully about your new day.

Set the intention to unplug from all your devices for at least an hour a day. You may need your laptop or smartphone while at work, but you certainly don’t need it all day. Same goes for TV. Challenge yourself to go at least an hour (or several hours) every day with no technology to get your quiet time in. Tip: Check out these other science-backed reasons to mindfully unplug!

Schedule time to head out for a walk along a trail or in a park. A natural area with green space is perfect for finding silence. The rustling of the wind through the trees and the chirping of birds don’t really count as noise since it's really the more “toxic” noises of cities and people we need to remove ourselves from every so often, so these calming sounds of nature may offer an extra healing benefit. Try to get out for a short walk early in the morning, during lunch, or in the evening to enjoy the peace nature has to offer.

Invest in a pair of high-quality, noise-cancelling headphones. If you can get a pair, they’ll be of great use to you while commuting (on public transit or in your car) and at work if you share workspace with other coworkers. When you simply have to be in a public place but don’t need to answer to anyone for at least a few minutes, break out the those headphones or earbuds to just sit in silence for a bit.

Take an evening bath. Nobody bothers anyone who’s in the bathroom, so taking a bath and locking the door can be a good excuse to get some much needed quiet time into your day. If you’ve got pushy family members or roommates, verbally tell them not to bother you. Setting boundaries like this will help ensure you get the time to yourself that you need.

A few extra minutes of quiet time can really make a huge difference in your day. On those super busy days where you can't possibly find any time at all for yourself, you may want to do a quick body scan meditation right before you drift off to sleep.

Image (edited) via Brian Tomlinson