Have you been feeling overwhelmed and stressed? If so, have you considered that it could be due to too much “noise”?
Perhaps it’s time to create some stillness. But what does this mean exactly? How does one do it and why bother?
Here are some tips and three ways to implement more silence in your life.
1. Find out what might be overwhelming you
When we are on autopilot, we tend not to notice the impact of overstimulation.
Overstimulation can come in many forms, for instance visual, sound, tactile (touch) or a combination of several senses. It’s important to recognise what might be contributing to you feeling that you’ve had enough.
Take a moment now or the next time you feel overwhelmed to notice what types of information/ sound/ visuals might be too much for you in the moment. For instance, background music, family and neighborhood noises, advertising, light or blue screen pollution, traffic or simply conversation and interactions.
2. Explore silence in your daily life
Being able to experience silence means mindfully making conscious decisions to quiet the noise.
Easing into a mental decluttering requires choosing silence. This means not only choosing what you focus on, but also making conscious, mindful decisions about the situations in which you place yourself, the media and information you consume and how you structure (or don’t structure) your time to allow for quiet.
But what is silence exactly?
For many of us, sitting or being in silence is an unknown. We might have some fears or doubts and whether we can handle it or if we even want to try. But can we approach this with a sense of exploration?
For some, the intentional exploration of silence can become what in Buddhism is sometimes referred to as ‘Noble Silence’.
Noble Silence does not mean that we are not allowed to talk. It means that we don’t have to talk, we have no obligation to talk during that period of the day or night.
Silence becomes Noble when it is an Inner Silence. The mind is calm and at ease. Whenever I hear the sound of a bell, whether it is the outside bell or the telephone or the chiming of the clock, I take it as an opportunity to practice Noble Silence. I go back to my breathing. I feel the air moving in and out of my body.
-Sister Chân Diêu Nghiêm, Plum Village community
Is there something in the rest of your day that you could explore to bring you some silence? Examples could be focusing on one task without listening to a podcast or background music, or when feeling tempted to check email or feeds finding another way to feel connected such as spending time meditating, gardening or being with a pet.
3. Choose a deeper level of stillness
There is a way to shift our focus towards only what matters here and now.
There are many different ways to create stillness and silence. One of the most powerful is to attend a silent retreat . During this time you can experience meditation and mindfulness together with others, but without the usual small-talk or conversation.
There is typically a trained teacher to help guide you through the day’s activities, leaving you to be fully present in your own experience. Break times and eating are taken in silence – an interesting experience and one that can become a preferred practice!
Those who’ve attended retreats say that after being in silence they have felt a sense of presence, deep knowing or even a shift in their mental patterns. Others have said that having time for quiet felt like a gift or a type of self-care.
What can you do to choose stillness for yourself? Either now in this moment or in the future?
A mindful way
Once you experience a dropping down into silence, it can become easier to notice the edges of it. The surface of the stress or tension that keep us in a constant state of hyper-alert can start to become more recognizable.
The more we notice how it feels to create and settle into quiet, even if just for a moment the more it can become a ‘coming home’ or much-needed part of our day.
Notice it, feel it. You may find a new way, your way, into mindful silence.
This silence, this moment, every moment, if it’s genuinely inside you, brings what you need.