Everyday life can be noisy. Taking time away from all the chatter and clatter is very good for one's mental state. It helps you calm your thoughts and connect with yourself on a deeper level. Here are seven ways to savor the silence.
Pick a day dedicated to being quiet
If possible, try to pick one day, or at least a few hours, that you can dedicate to being quiet. If you live with other people, and they won’t be offended or weirded out, let them know you’re taking time to enjoy peace and quiet without conversation. It’s good to give yourself a day full of quiet so you can truly connect to yourself and disconnect from all the noise in the world. Also, sometimes you just need a refresher when your mind feels too chaotic, chatty, or overwhelmed. Having a full day dedicated to just being quiet can really help balance out your mind and give you some much needed alone time. You can even mark the day you choose for this on your calendar so you can remind yourself, lest you forget. Dub this day as “Quiet Day” from now on, and if you have any family members in your home, let them know it’s coming up soon, explaining to them what you plan to do so they’re in the loop.
Indulge in you time
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the day by setting aside “you time.” This can be very relaxing and comforting, as well as quiet. Take a nice, long hot bath using bath salts or bath balms. Listen to the sound of the water and enjoy the quietness as you relax into yourself. Baths are incredibly relaxing and have the ability to soothe any sore muscles you may have from a hard day’s work—they can also be rejuvenating for the mind and spirit as well. You can also give yourself a foot soak if a bath is too much for you right now. Close your eyes and just enjoy yourself. Remind yourself you’ve earned it and that everyone needs a break to stay on top of their game. Leave at least 20 minutes to an hour for “you time” during your quiet day.
Take a trip to a quiet place
Can you take a short trip to a quiet place where you can walk in peace and find places to just sit? If you like, you can do some mindfulness meditation while you’re there, both while you’re sitting and while you’re walking. If you encounter others, simply nod hello. Some great quiet places to visit are forests, caves, beaches, and rivers. Do your best to avoid the hustle and bustle of cities. Nature is often the most calming and relaxing—it can be noisy, but in a very different way. The sounds you hear in nature are very beautiful and can truly help you find peace of mind on your Quiet Day. Take a moment to sit on a rock or an old tree stump you find on your travels and listen to the quiet. Become a part of it, silencing your inner critic.
Listen for things you don’t normally hear
As you begin to spend more time without talking or absorbing extraneous input, listen for things you don’t normally hear: A bird song in the distance, wind chimes, a fountain, a waterfall. First, try to identify a sound, and then, try listening without labeling what it is (“that’s thunder,” “that’s a bird,” etc.). Just notice and enjoy the sound itself. Hearing can also be a whole-body experience. If you have some ringing in your ears, avoid obsessing about it. That’s common to notice when things are quiet. Just enjoy the natural sounds around you and realize how they differ from the noise of the city, work, or school.
Avoid electronic devices
If possible, try not to look at your phone, computer, or other electronic devices during Quiet Day. If something requires you to get online, try to keep it to the minimum necessary rather than getting drawn into lengthy social media jags or complex and possibly emotional email threads. Electronics have a way of zapping our time and attention, leaving us feeling empty. Just enjoy the wonder of the “now” on Quiet Day and release your mind from the burden of technology. Cruising through Instagram or Facebook will only make your mind chatter worse, giving you something to latch on to and think about. Maybe you’ll encounter a status you think is directed towards you, or see a picture that makes you envious. This sort of reaction will really take away from the core purpose of Quiet Day, making it hard to savor the silence you’re letting yourself feel. Take a break from your phone and mute it—better yet, turn it off completely. You don’t have to do this the entire day, but if you choose to, just make sure to let friends and family know where you’ll be that day beforehand. If you feel you can’t give up a day of electronics, at least attempt not using any for an hour or two.
Have short and simple conversations
When you’re with other people during a quiet time or you run into someone, you can keep the talking functional and to a minimum (without being rude). When your short and simple conversation is over, return to being quiet. Most of the time we often feel obligated to continue a conversation we’re not truly enjoying just to be polite. On Quiet Day (or whenever you find yourself needing quiet time), allow yourself to break this rule for the sake of mental health. Keeping things short and sweet in a conversation can be refreshing for both parties, especially when you both have other things you’d rather be doing.
Meditation is so powerful: It calms us and helps us live more focused lives. During your quiet time, make sure to schedule in some meditation. You can do a sitting or moving meditation. I like to do a walking meditation when sitting gets too repetitive: Simply begin to count from one to ten with each step. Then count from ten down to one, and start again from one up to ten. As you walk and count, keep your focus on the sole of each foot as it hits the ground. What’s happening as you count one, two, three, four, and so on to your steps is that you’re bringing your awareness and focus back to the powerful present. If you prefer a sitting meditation, get comfortable in a seat of your choice (I like to have a pillow against my back). Cross your legs and close your eyes, taking a deep breath in. One of my favorite ways to clear my head is to visualize a trash can in my mind’s eye and that I’m dumping all my worries and obligations into it, like work, financial woes, family drama, etc. Envision all your concerns being dumped into the trash, putting the lid on it, and then kicking it out of view. This really helps clear and quiet the mind. After that, I just concentrate on breathing in and out deeply, focusing on my breath. I do this for a few minutes and just let myself sit there in peace and harmony. I always feel refreshed after just five minutes of this. What meditation practices work for you?