Add Silence to Your Life

I’m not a big exerciser. I walk everywhere, but besides that, the last time I sweated and panted in a gym was probably back in high school. Still, I like feeling like I have a basic level of fitness, so every evening I do a series of sit-ups and stretches and other things.

Recently, though, I’ve added a new miniature exercise to the routine: I finish my little workout by sitting on the rug and meditating quietly for a few minutes. I’m a complete beginner and find my mind leaping wildly from breath to breath, but there are brief moments when I’m stunned by the experience of silence. I’m talking about silence both without and within; we might be surrounded by relative quiet every day, but our minds are buzzing or screaming at a near-constant rate most of the time. Sometime in my quiet sitting, though, I found myself listening to the sound of the dishwasher with a new appreciation; and when that faded, I listened to the quiet of the evening house with amazement. For just a brief time, I was able to inhabit my surroundings, instead of thinking about anything but where I was.

There’s a small miracle in silence. It happens so rarely these days, and yet when it does, it allows us to remember who we are, what is around us, and that we are human and alive. It allowed me to think about the important elements of my story and my own creativity in a fresh way. It took away the dullness and numbness of the end of a long day and made me feel refreshed.

I highly recommend allowing a little silence into your daily life as well. That doesn’t mean checking your email without the music playing, or watching TV on mute; it means pushing away from the million distractions and worries and trying to experience a little silence in your own mind. Stop and listen to just one thing at a time, or sit and listen to your own thoughts. You’ll emerge from this silence refreshed and with new ideas about what your writing needs, and maybe about what you need as well.


  1. mary brady says:

    I purchased a book called ‘Mindfulness’ after reading the library’s copy. It’s by two Brits who combine Mindfulness meditation/practice with cognitive behavioral therapy. (And it’s actually patterned on the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American who pioneered this approach.)

    BLH, what you did is exactly what this book recommends: simply ‘Be Here Now.’ Listen to the sounds in your house. When you eat, really taste your food. Be present. Now.

    It was stunning to me how much truth I got from this slim volume. I learned that it is not the sad or negative thought wandering into my mind that’s the problem. It is my reaction to that thought.

    Rather than let the thought come & go, I go into a frenzy! Oh my God, it’s true, I AM a no-talent idiot, why do I bother trying…& on goes the spiral.

    Everyone has occasional sad thoughts or feelings of inadequacy. I COULD choose to examine the thought, look at it, admit I’ve had it before, but choose NOT to go into my usual death spiral as a result of it.

    This mindfulness practice really frees up a LOT of time usually spent lashing & flogging oneself. Plus, you tend to be happier.

    I’ve taken a sheet of paper, cut small slips, & written little
    reminders for myself on them: ‘Breathe,’ ‘Mindfulness,’ ‘All is Well,’ & ‘Be Here Now.’ I’ve taped these to spots in my house where I know I’ll see them each day.

    It has really helped to keep me HERE & not larking about in my past or agonizing over the wreckage of my future. I think that’s where most of us live our lives: telling stories of what we DID or plans about what we’ll DO.

    All we truly have is a succession of present moments–& we miss most of them lost in the past or future.

    This is an excellent reason to have a dog. Dogs always know
    what time it is: NOW! (so let’s go play ball!!!)

    Great blog post!

    Love, MaryB (where the hell have I been, anyway? painting.
    It’s the art form of the moment, but I’ll soon write again.)

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