While I was on my vacation last month, I spent part of it at a ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat in rural Eastern Colorado where all participants took a vow of silence, or observed Noble Silence as they called it. We were not allowed to speak to other students (we could speak to the teacher or staff if we had problems). We were not supposed to even use hand gestures to communicate or even make eye contact. We also turned over all cell phones, writing materials, and reading materials; there were no tvs, no radios, no computers, no internet. We were for all practical purposes completely cut off from the outside world.
The silence required by the retreat was in fact the deciding factor for my participation. Although I absolutely love my job and my life, it involves lots and lots of listening, and sometimes quite a bit of talking, and frankly I was just tired of all the noise. I was looking for some peace and QUIET.
It felt a little weird at first not having to say “excuse me” if I accidentally bumped into someone in passing, and not smiling or looking at my two roommates. However, after a day or two it actually felt incredibly liberating. I was there to learn more about myself, and this retreat gave me the time and safe space to do just that.
I know many parents who put their kids in “time out” or send them to their room when they get a bit of out hand, but how many times have you put yourself in a time out? How often have you taken time JUST FOR YOU, not with your spouse or partner, not with your kids, not with your friends…. JUST YOU?
I sat next to a woman at a networking luncheon yesterday who spoke of how frazzled she was by the constant ringing of her phone that day. She wanted to just throw the thing away before noon – and yesterday wasn’t an abnormal day, she felt endlessly plagued by her phone. I know she is not alone is this feeling. How often do you turn off your cell phone or shut down your computer? Is the tv always turned on at your home? Perhaps giving yourself a digital sabbatical, even if it’s just a few hours a week disconnecting from the incessant noise that pervades our society, is just what the doctor ordered. I certainly am looking forward to my next extended digital sabbatical.
Vipassana is not for everyone. It is an incredibly intense experience that left me forever changed. However, I would encourage you to find some time in your day, even if it’s only five minutes at a time when you start out, to just sit and be quiet. Turn off the phone (or at least turn off the ringer!), turn off the tv, turn off the radio or music, find a quiet space and let the rest of the household know that you are not to be bothered during your quiet time.
Some people call this meditation, some people call this collecting your thoughts – whatever you call it, find a place in your schedule you can take a few minutes for yourself and let your mind be quiet. When I first started meditating, I could only handle about five minutes at a time. At the retreat we sat in meditation for eleven hours per day. We all start somewhere, and we all have the choice as to whether we want to take it to the next level or not.
Taking my own quiet time has made a huge impact in how much I’m able to get done during the rest of my day. It allows me to focus my mind and understand what’s really important as I’m going through each day. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself and watch what happens. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments whether you’re just starting out or whether you’ve been taking quiet time for years.
Holistic Professional Organizer and Coach at Synergy Organizing, LLC
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