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?

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  • http://theboldlife.com Tess The Bold Life

    I don’t know anyone in the world who can’t relate to this post. I smile about the cheese piled o the cracker. Bottom line is if we want a peaceful life we have to do the work. We often think it’s somebody else or a problem out there that is our obstacle to peace. It’s never about that. I’m my own obstacle to peace:)

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  • http://www.purposepowercoaching.com Chris Edgar

    Hi Stacey — it sounds like, amid all the obligations that seemed to be bearing down on you, sitting for a while helped you to get clear on what you actually wanted. I experience that too — that getting clear on what I want to handle, or at least what I want to do first, has everything seem less like an oppressive commitment or obligation and more like a choice, and some of the heaviness lifts.

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Hi Tess – yes, we have to do the work…and now we live with instant gratification – we don’t have time for the work, right?

    Hi Chris – Absolutely! I used to think “I don’t have time” now I realize how much more time I have when I take the time to just sit quietly. Definitely feels lighter.

  • http://YogaDemystified.com Bob Weisenberg

    Silence is the Roar of the Universe.

    Emptiness is the Fullness of the Grand Canyon.

    Nothingness is Always Abundance.

    Boredom is Always an Invitation to Amazement.

    Silence is the Roar of the Universe.

  • http://www.positiveletters.com Hilary

    Hi Stacey .. I loved this post – silence is golden .. now I know why! You expressed your tumultous thoughts so clearly .. I too ‘cheese and biscuit’ .. then feel unwell, because I really don’t like to eat then, or need to .. just deviating from the task in hand. Focus .. is the process we need, meditation and silence provide for the soul .. lovely – thank you – Hilary

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Hi Bob – Thank you for sharing…I agree!

    Hilary – thank you – I was amazed once I became aware of my “food tendencies”. Yes, meditation and silence provide for the soul…absolutely. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • http://evolvingbeings.com Evita

    Hi Stacey

    I love the benefits of silence, whether when by myself or with other people. I have always enjoyed doing more of the listening and observing and less of the talking.

    It is amazing what runs through our heads, but even more amazing is that many of us do know the right approach to take, and we often still resist it. Funny how human nature works…

  • http://www.workhappynow.com Karl Staib – Work Happy Now

    I can totally relate with the tennis match in my head feeling. We want to do 3 things at once but we can’t. By taking time to relax and just be, we can make better choices. I forget this too.

    I’m a big fan of Yoga, but this morning I told my wife that I was going to practice Yoga for fifteen minutes. I jumped on the computer real quick. Zap – fifteen minutes gone and no time left for my quiet time with my body. I must make more time for silence in my life. I know that I need it.

  • http://YogaDemystified.com Bob Weisenberg

    Good insights, Karl. Yes, make more time for silence, but in a relaxed Yogic sort of way, of course!

    Bob Weisenberg

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