There’s something you need to know about silence. So that you can understand why you are running from it. What you are missing every time you avoid it. I wished someone had told me this when I was younger, had explained the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. I was 44 years old before I learned this invaluable lesson. So, I wrote an article about it and published it on Medium.com. I also want to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it and decide to give silence a second chance.
Living Life “Unconsciously Competent”
It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. As you deal with the daily demands of work, family life, social responsibility, and the million other things on your plate, it can be hard to even find time for yourself. Can you relate to this?
Does it sometimes feel like you’re stuck in auto-pilot mode? Like you are merely reacting to the external events in your life rather than responding with intention?
In his book, Letting Go of Stuff, Darren L. Johnson calls this reactionary state of being “unconscious competence” where you know what you know so well, you forget you know it. In other words, you are performing the daily tasks of living without much conscious thought. You are relying on your knowledge of past patterns to inform your actions. If you’ve ever driven to work and not fully remembered the drive, you’ve experienced this state of being.
This lack of inner awareness in relationship to your environment removes you from living fully in the present moment and forces you to operate in a reactionary mode to the external events in your life.
Do you honestly enjoy living this way? Do you enjoy the chaos and busyness? Or are you running from the silence? I know I did. I spent half my life running as fast as I could.
Why I Ran From Silence
Fortunately, when I was a kid, I wasn’t scared of the dark. Maybe because I didn’t believe in the Boogey Man or monsters.
I was; however, terrified by silence. Well, I actually wasn’t scared of the silence as much as I was afraid something would break it.
See, my dad cherished his naps during the afternoon which meant everyone else in the house had to cherish the silence. Anything that broke the sound barrier while my dad was sleep . . . well, you might as well have stumbled upon a bear in a dark cave. Seriously, the danger was the same.
It was in those few times of poor judgement when my brothers and I were playing a little too loudly – well it was usually just them playing, as I was often in my room reading a book or writing in my journal – that my dad would come barreling out of the bedroom in his underwear and tank shirt waving a belt around his head and screaming at the top of his lungs. I think a bear would have been less frightening.
Without asking any questions to see who was really involved, my dad would just start doling out the punishments. If you were in the house, you were guilty by association. This often sent the neighbor kids running for the front door. Traumatized, I’m sure.
After everyone got their just spankings, a quiet calm would fall over the house again. And then my fear of the silence would slowly creep back in.
Why Everyone Should Embrace The Silence & Meditate
As an adult, I realized that I was operating in this state of unconscious competence because it was easy and what I knew best. Falling into this pattern is part of human nature because it reinforces our egos by making us feel safe, comfortable, and successful.
But there was a growing sense of restlessness under the surface that kept bubbling up. It manifested itself by making me feel anxious and unsettled. I felt stuck and disconnected with myself on many levels, and this disturbed me.
I knew I had to do something and I had read about the many benefits of meditation. In the spirit of growth, I decided to give silence another chance. What I ultimately learned through daily meditation is that by running from the silence, I was actually running from myself.
Through meditation, I learned how to consciously move into the state of awareness that Deepak Chopra calls the “silent observer”. As defined by Chopra, “The silent observer is the simplest version of me, the one that just is.” In this state of awareness, you are able to observe the things in your environment without judgment because there is no need for judgment at the soul’s level.
6 Undeniable Benefits Of Meditation:
- Awareness – Pulls you back into a state of conscious competence where you are acutely aware of what you know and what you don’t know. This opens you up to a more active state of internal and external awareness where you can live more honestly in the moment.
- Stress Relief – Alleviates anxiety and stress and promotes deep relaxation by calming the mind and spirit. From this place of inner calm, you will be capable of responding to life more intentionally instead of reacting to your external environment.
- Spirituality – Allows you to connect with yourself on a deeper level that feeds your spiritual side. Meditation allows your soul to speak into your consciousness. Consequently, you will create more meaningful relationships with others in your life because you will be more cognizant of the universal truths we all share.
- Inner Strength – Promotes a sense of being centered and grounded which is where inner strength resides. From this vantage point, you will be able to move through life more confidently and courageously.
- Focus and Clarity – Improves mental concentration and heightens clarity. This allows you to move through your day productively because you are less distracted by scattered thoughts.
- Happiness – Cultivates a lasting sense of joy in your life because it forces you to live life in the present moment which is the only place happiness resides.
There are many myths surrounding meditation that may hinder you from trying it. You would be wise to ignore them. Starting a daily meditation practice doesn’t require a lot of time. The benefits mentioned above can be fully realized with as little as 5-10 minutes of meditation daily.
There is also no right or wrong way to meditate so don’t let that fear keep you from incorporating some “you time” into your day.
You deserve to live a full and happy life, don’t you think? It sure beats the numbing busyness that we try to distract ourselves with, so stop running from yourself today and try this simple meditation.
- Find a quiet spot in your house or office and either sit in a chair with your feet on the ground or sit on the floor with your legs crossed and palms face up on your knees.
- Close your eyes and draw your focus to your breath as you naturally breathe in and out.
- Starting at the top of your head, focus on relaxing each part of your body as you move downward. You may notice that each part of the body feels heavier as you focus on relaxing that area.
- Take a slow deep breath in through your nose, hold for a second and then release slowly through your mouth. Repeat this five times. If you still feel any tension in your body, focus on specifically relaxing that area until your whole body feels heavy.
- Visualize yourself sitting by a bubbling brook under a grove of trees in the fall. You can hear the breeze blowing through the leaves and birds chirping in the distance. Hear the sounds of the water as it moves along the creek bed, cascading over the rocks. You can hear and see the autumn colored leaves gently falling from the trees and landing around you. Notice the peace and calm that has fallen over you as you sit beside the water. If any thoughts come into your mind, simply place them on a leaf and watch them float down the creek. You will watch them go by as a silent observer but do not judge those thoughts or yourself for having them.
- Be aware of all your senses. What are you seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling? Focus your attention on these things versus your thoughts which you will watch as you let them pass by you.
- When you are ready, simply open your eyes and gently move your body into motion.
Sure, life is busy, but don’t let that keep you from running from the silence. Essentially, you are just running from yourself. There are many benefits (awareness, relaxation, inner strength, focus/clarity, spirituality, and happiness) in slowing down and embracing silence through meditation. If you don’t believe me, just try it for yourself. It only takes a few minutes a day to reap the benefits of a life lived more intentionally where you can stop reacting to the world around you and live more honestly in the moment. After all, the present moment is where happiness resides. Why would anyone run from that?
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Deepak Chopra, M.D., Find Your True Self Through Meditation; http://www.chopra.com/articles/find-your-true-self-through-meditation#sm.0017vshdk16s3csmycb2gehdkvluu
Alice G. Walton, 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change The Brain, Forbes; https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#2b9cb77d1465
Sasha Bronner, 12 Myths About Meditation We Have To Stop Believing, Huffington Post; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/08/meditation-myths_n_6804780.html
Darren L. Johnson, Letting Go of Stuff: Powerful Secrets To Simplify Your Life; https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006TM8QBI/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
The Chopra Center; http://www.chopra.com/#sm.0017vshdk16s3csmycb2gehdkvluu