Maybe you’ve moved into your new house after separating from your spouse. Or your family went on vacation, and you stayed behind to work. Or you’re travelling for business and have just got to your hotel room. Whatever the case, you now face silence when you’re used to the hustle and bustle that is family life. This may be the first or hundredth time you’ve been here. Your thoughts start pacing and you start listening to the voice in your head that accompanies the absence of sound. You think to yourself; who can I call or text? What’s on social media? What’s on TV? Should I play some music?
How many times do we choose these options, rather than embrace this rare chance to get to know ourselves better. To allow our brains to decompress from the preceding days, weeks or months.
We’re constantly plugged into technology: social media, video games, music or TV. We’re also plugged-in socially. Meeting friends for coffee or lunch, play dates with our children, dog dates, gym buddies, running groups, the list is endless.
Yet in an age where we are constantly seeking ways to optimize our lives, we overlook one of the most basic tools available. We stress to our children how important quiet time is for them, but rarely do we adopt the same principles.
Many of us live fast paced lives and do not entertain the idea of self-imposed quiet time. We think that it involves being in a house and sitting still as we try to stop ourselves from thinking. However, it can take any form that you want as long as the only noise that exists is from your natural environment.
Exercise as Quiet Time
For me when faced with my “quiet house,” I gravitated towards exercise. I began running and hiking with a friend’s dog, not listening to music so I knew where she was at all times. We would spend hours in the mountains, not coming home until I had enough of what I thought we needed, which was to burn off energy. What I didn’t know at the time, was that what I actually needed—and got from my runs and exercise—was a place free from distraction and noise so I could productively make sense of everything that was happening in my life.
Since then, my exercise practice evolved and now not only do I use this time to unplug, but also to think. Sometimes about decisions that need to be or have been made in the upcoming week. Or to reflect on the social or professional interactions I’ve had, analyzing whether they could have been improved. In fact, the longer I am out running, the more I mentally accomplish, and I always come back refreshed.
By no means am I an expert in this field, I am more a beginning practitioner. There are more reputable authors who’ve written articles; so I won’t list ways to structure periods of silence into your own lives. A simple audit of your day could potentially provide you with an insight into this. For me, my quiet time is as necessary as food or water on an almost daily basis. So much in fact, that whenever I see the toll of life weighing down my friends, I not only ask them what “me time’ have they had recently but I also try to emphasize that “me time” should involve quiet time.