A Personal Note About the Benefits of Silence
Last weekend I shared two stories of silent practices from other people. Today I want to share a personal perspective on the benefits of silent or meditative practices.
I left the house yesterday around 7am for an early meeting. I arrived back home by 9:15am. And that’s when my thoughts started running wild.
Start project A…No, I promised So & So I’d work on Project B…But I need to make that phone call…oh, I think I’m hungry…No, I’m not hungry, I’m stressed…No, I’m hungry…
I began mindlessly slicing cheese and piling it on a cracker. (Confession: When stressed my foods of choice include some cheese/carb combo or chocolate/peanut butter combo)
Food didn’t help and only served to create more stress. Now I felt guilty for eating when I wasn’t hungry. Back to my thoughts…
Meditate, Stacey. You need silence…No, I need to run, that triathlon is coming up…I don’t feel like running…yoga…Ok, I know, I’ll bike for 30 minutes, yoga and then meditate…Ok, bike 20, yoga 20, meditate 20.
Can you relate to this constant back and forth of thoughts? I call it the tennis match in my head. With a “monkey mind” like that, I probably should have dropped everything and sat silently for the whole hour. I was exhausted. I ended up biking for 20 minutes, gently stretching for 20 minutes and meditating for 20 minutes. I chose to focus on the word “focus” for this sitting practice.
I knew what I needed, I knew it would help and I still resisted. I’ve made a career out of teaching these practices! Why was I resisting what I KNEW would benefit me? Fear of not getting my work done? Fear of appearing “weak”? In the end, I sat, and the time in silence worked. Within minutes I felt lighter and a smile crept onto my face. I had more clarity about the projects I’m working on and how best to prioritize them. Some of the challenges that I faced suddenly had clear solutions. I couldn’t wait to get up and begin working again. I sat for the full 20 minutes, feeling more calm, focused and refreshed than when I started.
I haven’t always been able to beat the resistance.
When first introduced to the practice I resisted it. “I don’t have time for this!” I would convince myself. A lot of time passed before it became a regular habit. (I’ll share the story of how I got here in a separate post.)
Meditation has become a powerful tool in my toolbox for those moments when I feel stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated or angry. This practice keeps me “in charge” of my thoughts, emotions and ability to “get things done”. The best part: silence is free, requires no special equipment, and I can take it with me anywhere. Powerful stuff.
With a relaxed mind, I can more effectively get things done. And that is feel-good living.
What about you? Are there benefits you’ve experienced with a silent practice? Have you read the benefits of the practice and you resist?