As mentioned in my last post of 2019 I took a couple of days off to reflect on and review the last year. By doing so I came across a downloaded blog from Rob Hatch about silence. To be honest, I don’t remember who Rob Hatch is and where I downloaded the blog from but I found it in my folder of “things to remember” and thought it is the perfect practice to welcome a new year. It may feel counterproductive at first, but the results I’ve had prove that the opposite is actually true.
With this short introduction and before I hand over to Rob Hatch…
And with no further ado, here are Rob’s thoughts on silence:
“Last week I found myself with a block of “waiting room” time. It was the type of waiting that required you to be nearby for an undetermined duration, just in case. And it might last an hour…or three.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not terribly patient in these situations. I prefer a little definition to my day.
Of course, I immediately began thinking about ways to make use of every minute. What could I accomplish with all this time? After all, I wouldn’t want it to go to waste.
My list grew quickly as I contemplated running a few errands nearby, squeezing everything I could out of the moment. And then I just stopped, let all of it go, and took some of the time to enjoy the silence.
Silence and stillness are not unproductive
That’s the way we tend to view silence. We’re often uncomfortable with it. Try spending 20 minutes in your car with the radio off. Better yet, count how many times you reach for the knob. Try leaving your phone in your pocket while you stand in line at the store. Or just try waiting, in silence, for anything for more than 15 minutes.
We are always looking for distractions to fill the silence. So we pull out our phones and check…something. I do it all the time. I’ve even advocated using these moments to be more productive by replying to a few emails for example. But sometimes silence is an accomplishment.
The fact is, our brains need this time. We need moments where our minds wander and our focus gets a bit fuzzy. That’s where connections are made and ideas emerge, in the quiet spaces in between. And they come when we stop looking for every distraction available to us to fill a void.
Just Do What?
My good friend Sheri’s favorite phrase is, “Don’t just do something. Stand there.”
The key to the phrase is that we are always looking to ‘just do something’. Nike’s famous tagline, “Just Do It”, isn’t particularly helpful if we get stuck on ‘Just Do’ when we aren’t terribly clear about what ‘It’ is. And that’s where silence comes in because when we stop doing, even for a few moments, “it” tends to reveal itself.
Maybe your silence is prayer or meditation. Maybe you just focus on your breathing. Maybe you stare in wonder at a spider web or the night sky in late summer. The goal is to stop. The goal is to sit and wait in silence.
When we’re constantly told to hustle to be successful, it can be hard to allow for those moments. But I promise you they are as important as anything on your To-Do list.
My waiting room silence didn’t last the entire time. It didn’t need to. But the time I did spend, felt good. It cleared my mind and eventually I eased back into a few simple things. I emerged less harried and grateful for those moments.”
I’d like to repeat my invitation and ask you to find the time for silence in your day in the hopes that you will feel calmer, more focused and more purposeful in your actions. You don’t need a fancy practice. Allow yourself to do nothing for a little bit. Close your eyes if you find this helpful and “listen” to what happens. You may be surprised and grateful because thoughts and ideas have emerged that otherwise wouldn’t have found their way to you.
Photo by Anna-Louise from Pexels