Health and wellness does not always depend on doing something. Sometimes, one must not do in order to preserve one’s sanity. Unfortunately, many people cannot spend a few minutes every day enjoying silence. The radio flips on first thing, then they turn on the TV for breakfast, crank the tunes in the car, stare at a computer and chat on a phone much of the day, more chatting and tunes on the way home, and flip on the TV when they walk through the door. Why? Have you ever heard of someone saying that they “need” noise?
The problem that arises from this is simple. Over-stimulation of the visual and auditory senses bombard our brains with too much information. It provides a buffer but more often acts as a barrier between us and the world. It desensitizes us, deafens us (quite literally, and not just because of iPod earbuds), promotes emotional response often in negative forms. We grow tense and anxious, worried and even fearful, and hardly ever happy. A lot of music promotes anger and rebellion, or suggests that we “are not good enough” the way we are. Then there are the advertisements that scream, “Buy! Buy! Buy! And you’ll be happy.” Nor should we forget our dear news anchors. I know many friends of mine who say they really get fed up with the media for always reporting the nasty and gruesome.
My response: turn it off.
While we cannot get away from technology overload at many workplaces, we can mindfully take some noise out of our personal lives. Admittedly, I am a music nut. I love to listen to most anything. For me, music is primal. It speaks to the heart. It gets me moving and gets my brain working.
This is all well and good. However, our brains need a rest from time to time from continual stimulation. Now, I don’t have any studies to plaster on this post but I have found through personal experience that shutting off all noise-producing electronics (okay, maybe leave the A/C on) to be really beneficial. It allows my mind to calm down–even stop!–and regroup. If something barges into my quiet time, I simply acknowledge it and let it pass. It will still be there in 15 minutes. This time is my time.
What I experience from this is what you may have heard as “deep relaxation”. When the mind quiets, the body relaxes. You might even get a nap. What is most important, however, is that you are taking the time to invest in yourself, in your physical and mental well-being.
This takes time. You cannot sit in a chair for 5 minutes and feel relaxed. You must dedicate time to doing this, preferably 15-20 minutes (an egg timer or one on your phone work well to help keep you on schedule if you’re busy). You must also be comfortable. I prefer lying on the floor. Some prefer sitting on the floor in an easy, cross-legged position. Either way, we close our eyes and we focus on our breathing. It’s going in and going out; the filling and emptying of the lungs; the rejuvenation we experience because of it. Then we resume our day, refreshed.
Another great way to experience quiet is to relax outside. I love listening to birds, wind in the trees, and water. This offers you the opportunity to reconnect with your world without having to go all tree-hugger. (I also believe this is why some people garden. They enjoy the quiet and it enables them to reconnect with nature, from which they receive life-giving sustenance.) However you proceed, enjoy it. We spend the vast majority of time running helter-skelter throughout our day with little thought about ourselves. Isn’t it about time you do?