Friday, January 25, 2013

Seeking Silence in a Noisy World


For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. ~Psalm 62:5

As I continue to explore my word of the year “Wait,” I find that I am seeking more quiet time. This coincides nicely with my recent transition to an empty nest. There are many ways to experience quiet time.

I might sit with a cup of tea and read.

I’m trying to step up my meditation practice. I’m finding that the noisiest place on the planet is right inside my head!

My martial arts practice, oddly, seems to be a time of inner quiet, even though my body is busy.

I am going to block out more time on my calendar to go to my cabin in the mountains, where I am unplugged from phone and computer and TV. In fact, I’m headed up there today for the weekend.

I might experiment with a time of being unplugged here at home during the week, perhaps Sunday mornings.

Do you have any sort of regular quiet time? I’d love to hear about it.

As I just mentioned, I’ll be away from the computer for a couple of days. Because I use comment moderation (to avoid spam), there will be a delay in seeing them. Your comments are valued and valuable, so please go ahead and leave your comments, and they will magically appear on Sunday as soon as I get back. I look forward to hearing about your experiences with silence.

related post: Silence is Golden; The M Word

58 comments:

  1. I love what you said about the inside of your head being the noisiest place--mine, too!

    I don't have a regular quiet time, but I see the value in having one. When I do give myself a chance to quiet myself, I find that it takes a few minutes to get to a place where I can "hear" the silence. I listen to my breath but try not to direct my breathing pattern. And I imagine my thoughts flowing through my mind and swirling into a globe, where I can see them but don't have to engage them.

    Being unplugged for a day--that would probably do me good.

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    1. Tina, When I'm at the cabin, I really don't even miss the phone and the computer. But when I'm at home, it's hard for me to stay away. I might just try to unplug for half a day, maybe Sunday mornings.

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  2. That's my problem, Galen. No priorities set for any regular activity. The only activity that I have a regular time is for meals. I'm quiet haphazard that way. A trait that I find quite deplorable. My quiet time with the word is also not happening as regularly as I would like. High time that I set my awareness levels for my priorities. You made me feel guilty but then this time I think I will not let that guilt just melt away. I MUST work on that.

    All said and done, I enjoy my silent moments when I'm at peace with myself and the exterior world.

    Thanks dear Galen.

    I wish you a time filled with bliss and joy at your cabin. Reminds me of Thoreau's hut at Walden.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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    1. Susan, I wasn't trying to make anyone feel guilty--oh dear! But I hope that energy becomes productive and helps you find some quiet time. Yes, I had a lovely weekend, thanks.

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  3. Nice one, Galen.
    I had to laugh when i read it - talk about synchronicity - i just posted this at the same time!
    http://www.diamondmine.me/blog/
    haha
    Phil

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    1. Phil, I'll come right over and check it out!

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  4. I wish I were as lucky Galen!

    I guess with kid's around and a family to look after your time is never actually your time, leave alone finding any quit time alone, something that I really want to have.

    But yes, my morning walks, or the time when I sit for meditation, or listen to soft music are my times - when I manage to get away from the maddening world. Nice to know that you are taking a break - see you after the weekend and have a nice time too. :)

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    1. Harleena, Your time will come! I didn't get away for many quiet weekends when my kids were small, that's for sure!

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  5. I meditate each and every morning upon waking, practicing zazen and yoga. It sets a peaceful, relaxed tone for the rest of the day.

    I like "wait."

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    1. JR, Like you, when I start my day with meditation, the rest of the day goes much better.

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  6. Hi Galen,
    Enjoy your retreat! You are so right about the noisest place being right inside our heads! I have monkey mind as it is! The monkeys distract me so I don't have "time" to meditate but I'm learning to give them bananas to distract THEM! :)
    Hugs
    SuZen

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    1. SuZen, As Pema Chodron wrote, if it weren't for my mind, my meditation would be excellent--ha! I'm going to have to stock up on bananas.

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  7. I don't have any regular quiet time because so much of my day, when everyone is at work, is filled with silence. I love it!
    Hope you have a wonderful, quiet weekend, Galen!

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    1. Martha, That's wonderful, isn't it, to have silence built right in?! I had a lovely weekend, thanks. Read, meditated, watched the snow falling.

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  8. I have lots of quiet time these days up on top of a mountain in Asheville. I find myself reading, writing my 2 books I'm in the process of writing - meditation is amazing on top of a mountain. Cooking has been delightful and shear peace is a blessing.

    Great post my friend and empty nesting has its own adventures.
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, You are writing two books at once?! You need lots of peace! I have always been drawn to the mountains. My cabin is at the base of Mt. Hood, right on a creek. I don't have much of a view, though, because it is nestled in thick forest. I have lovely views driving to it, though! And yes, this empty nest living is wonderful.

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  9. This is such a wonderful topic, Galen. I've found that, as I've matured spiritually, moments of silence have become ever more rich for me -- rich in self-awareness, peace, empathy and so many other qualities.

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    1. Jeffrey, Like you, as I've gotten older (and maybe matured a bit!), I seem drawn more and more to silence. Maybe it is part of my transition to an empty nest, but we'll see how it develops over time. I suspect it will become more and more important to me.

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  10. Hope you did unwind in silence at your cabin. And maybe the sunshine we are having today is there too?

    I have been working on 3 forms of silencing the mind this past week, they are all working well except for Saturday mornings when I must listen to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! I am addicted and my mind just races with laughter and ideas.

    I use the Hindu form of Mantra when walking...I think of a word like joy and repeat it with each right step. This works very well especially since ZIP likes to pause and pee along the way! I can just come right back to focus.

    I am painting the rooms on the main floor of the house right now. I have used music and radio to match the brush strokes, but have found ZEN "wax on, wax off" ideas works even better - so I have been doing that for about 15 minutes of each paint session. Focus on the task.

    If I watch a movie or read before going to sleep, my mind is on high all night long. So I have been using the Buddhist breath technique for healing 6 in/hold 2/ 12 out/ hold 2...to silence my mind. Make sure the lower ribs are pushed out. This has just put me very soundly to sleep and stopped the racing dreams also I would say that I accomplish about 5 minutes very successfully.

    When I just can not stop the mind racing during meditation or yoga/Qigong...I just get out a piece of paper and pencil and stop and write down what I am thinking. On Wednesday of this past week - I had nearly 80 items on the paper - yikes. I called that the worry meditation!

    I can not wait to read what others have written here. Coming back after Downtown Abby on Sunday night :)

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    1. Patricia, All great examples of sinking into silence. I especially like the painting focus.

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  11. Since you won't see this 'til Sunday - hope you had a magnificently silent experience. I love the silence. Unfortunately, I've stopped meditating, which used to do daily. I need to get back to that practice.

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    1. Myrna, I did have a wonderful weekend, thank you. It was nice to meditate and listen to the creek outside.

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  12. Love this Galen. So many times we need to just have more silence in our minds in a sometimes noisy world.

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    1. Kim, I think so, too, at least in my own mind!

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  13. I love this post because it reminds me of your word of the year post, which I remember reading and thinking Yes! I need that. My head has been especially noisy these past few days. I let my yoga practice lapse for two weeks due to sickness and was surprised to learn that it does actually help quiet my mind and keep me feeling balanced. I am excited to step up my practice of yoga and meditation with you.

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    1. Kaylin, Wonderful--we will encourage and support each other. I feel the same way about my martial arts practice. When I'm away from it for a week or more, I can really tell a difference.

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  14. My place is pretty quiet in general, but I also intersperse little bits of meditation in between activities during the day.

    My favorite time is very late in the evening after all the pets (and here I include my boyfriend) are asleep, and I sit up and meditate in front of the TV (I know, that's weird, but for some reason it works for me).

    I envy your cabin, though - my mom and I used to go to a place like that every year for a week or so - out in the country, no phone or television, not even a radio. We would just sit around and read or draw or whatnot all evening. I miss that relaxing little interlude.

    Have a wonderful silence-is-golden time, and I will "wait" to hear about it when you get back! :)

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    1. Jennifer, Thanks, it was wonderful. I'm going to try to get up there more often, maybe twice a month instead of once a month. It is so lovely. The snow was beautiful this weekend, except it had melted and frozen so it was not very good for walking--very slippery! But I enjoyed reading by the fire and meditating, and short walks to the shed to get more wood.

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  15. As the days get busier, I appreciate quiet time more and more. I make it a point to switch off in the evenings and together with family, go to the nearby lake where there is a walking rink, where we walk for an hour and then leisurely return home. On days we cannot make it, we go up to our terrace. And of course, when we're out of time I am totally off the internet.

    I am laughing at what you said about the noisiest place on the planet. I could say the same for my mind. I find that my habit of starting the day with prayer really sets the tone for the day. Peaceful. Or tackle-able. :-)

    Hugs to you!

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    1. Vidya, You have a lake nearby? How wonderful. I'm sure you have posted photos of it--will you send me a link? And maybe a photo of the view from your terrace? I love peeking into your life! Yes, our minds! I agree that starting my day with prayer and meditation makes the rest of the day much more manageable.

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  16. I find my quietest time is in the morning when I shower, yes the water beats down on my body but I find this is where I love spending some me time. No computers, phones, doorbells, dog wanting out or anything. Just me, my Creator and the clean water I'm blessed with.

    A weekend in the cabin sounds enticing, very enticing. Good for you to get away and make time for yourself.

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    1. darlin, I like shower time, too. I especially liked it when kids still lived at home because then I was completely by myself and couldn't hear the noise in the house. Well, that worked until my one year old grandson figured out how to come in the bathroom and check out what I was doing in the shower! I had a lovely time at the cabin, thanks.

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  17. Sometimes it takes a long time for me to still all the noise in my head, but once I do, I'm so glad I did. I Pray you had a restful weekend.

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    1. Alecia, Those moments of mind peace are precious, and all too rare in my mind! I did have a very restful weekend, thank you.

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  18. Here in Tucson my life is busy, but I'm becoming aware of time sinks. I want to use my time well and include some of it for silence. I'm not very good at it yet, but I suspect it will serve me well as I decide how to minimize the time I spend unwisely.

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    1. Linda, Your life there sounds busy in a very fun and social way. For me, the silence isn't something I'm forcing, but something I'm yearning for, so I'm motivated to make time for it. Enjoy your sunny winter!

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  19. Oh enjoy that peace and quiet; I am going to envy you. Just reading this made me realize that I do need to get more quiet time in my life. I would love a get away with out TV, computers and etc. I am going to ponder on how to fit more quiet time in my life. Thanks for the thoughts; I needed to hear them today.
    Blessings to you!

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    1. LeAnn, It's so easy to do at the cabin, but I'm thinking now about how to create this silence at home from time to time. Maybe Sunday mornings will be unplugged time. I'm going to experiment.

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  20. These are wonderful ways to find more silence. I carve out time for meditation and silence each day, but I would like to unplug more. For chunks at a time. Thanks for inspiring me in that direction.

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    1. Sandra, I might experiment with unplugging on Sunday mornings. I seem to remember that you did some unplugging a while back, didn't you? How was that?

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  21. I had to laugh at the noisiest place on the planet, Galen. I always thought it was my head!
    I do cherish my early morning time alone.

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    1. Corinne, Do you have a morning routine for your alone time? I have begun to start my day with some meditation and tai chi.

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  22. I do enjoy my quiet time almost every day. I think it is necessary to stay healthy. When my children were living at home I would often get up very early so I could have some time for myself. I now usually get my quiet time in the afternoon when my youngest son and husband head off to work.

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    1. Bonnie, I used to get up early, too, when my kids were small so that I could have a moment to myself before the hectic day got started. What do you usually do with your afternoon quiet time now?

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  23. Hi Galen, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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    1. Chris, Welcome and thanks for the kind words about the blog. And thanks also for following. I'll be over soon to visit!

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  24. Galen,

    After I shut down my blog I realized that all the time spent there had been robbing me of my favorite morning ritual - journal writing. I was filling my head with all sorts of wonderful ideas, but I never took the time to sort them, as I have done in the past through personal daily writing.

    Now, I sit down to write every morning and the first thing I do is "empty the garbage" - that cluttered, too busy mind that is spinning out of control. Then I get to the things that matter and record them, along with my feelings, hopes, dreams, etc. I feel more prepared for my day and less overwhelmed.

    I miss the blog, but in a way, it was a blessing. I needed "perspective" to be able to come back to myself.

    Funny - most of us can find a little time to BE physically quiet. It's how we use the time to go into ourselves that makes it a meaningful experience.

    Thank you for a wonderful reminder that it doesn't just happen. We have to plan it, just as we plan going to the gym or Friday night with friends. Ah... to have a cabin in the woods...



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    1. Suzanne, How wonderful that you have rediscovered something that feeds your spirit. I'm trying to take some time every morning to do something similar before I get online. You're right. I have to plan it, and then stick to it! And yes, the cabin in the woods helps a lot--no choice there but to be unplugged and present in nature.

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  25. I allocate a regular amount to quiet time. Every day in fact. It is important time for me. I have decided that it is far more precious than being on Facebook LOL!

    I also believe that it is important to take days or weeks off for retreats. Disconnecting from technology and media keeps us sane. We use the time to reconnect back with Mother Earth and nature.

    Enjoy your time in the cabin!

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    1. Evelyn, What do you do during your quiet time? Always the same thing or whatever you are drawn to that day? I'm asking because I'm trying to see if having a set routine for quiet time will help me stick to it.

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  26. My "enforced" quiet time is Sunday. Besides 3 hours at various church functions in the morning, I have a rule: no Tweeting. I will respond to blog comments, but spend as little time as possible with a computer on that day.

    I try to get any weekend chores done on Saturday, so Sunday is free to just enjoy the day with family and myself, quietly reading, sitting on the porch and enjoying the weather, or maybe taking to dog to the park.

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    1. Bob, I'm going to try something along those lines, too. Sunday seems like a good day to "set aside." I usually go to church in the morning (not for three hours, though). Maybe limiting my online activity to publishing and responding to comments will open up other possibilities for quiet time. Thanks for the ideas.

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  27. My quiet time is two hours a week during my yoga class. I try to practice at home too but it's hard to make family understand I need to not be disturbed. Cabin in the woods sounds amazing!

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    1. Claire, I feel that way about my martial arts classes. Even though there is action and some talking, it seems quiet inside, if that makes any sense. And yes, I am very grateful for my little cabin, especially because I live in a densely populated (but very beautiful) inner city neighborhood.

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  28. " I’m finding that the noisiest place on the planet is right inside my head!" NO WAY! The noisiest place on the planet is inside MY head!

    My quiet time is in the evening when I go up to journal before bed, but since I've been so sick lately, I've come to appreciate just sitting in the quiet of my livingroom and knitting of crochetting, or just sitting there and breathing. Who knows; I may yet learn to meditate!

    Lori

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    1. Lori, We'll have a contest! I'm so sorry that you have been sick. There is a lot of flu going around my part of the world. Hope you get well soon. In the meantime, it is nice when you're feeling poorly to enjoy giving yourself permission to snuggle into a warm nest and rest.

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  29. HI Galen, LIke Suzanne mentioned, my quite time is when writing - which I try to do everyday. And also doing prayers which I also try to do everyday.

    I do seek solitude and am more a quiet person but the dichotomy of my life is my work life where I am surrounded with hundreds of people, candidates, rally's etc - I think because the public life is so loud, I regularly seek more silence:) in my personal life.

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    1. Vishnu, There is a saying we used in Shambhala training -- "Everything is workable." This means that whatever is happening becomes part of our practice. You have learned to stay grounded and centered in the midst of a very hectic and intense environment. It's understandable that you would balance that with some occasional silence!

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