Silence. Comforting to some, maddening to others. In today’s world of constant connectivity and digi-distraction, silence is a rare and precious commodity. The constant bombardment of texts, emails, status updates, tweets, etc. provide a constant stream of stimuli that leave no time or space for friends, our families or ourselves.
We have family wide electronic black outs during the week. No TV, no email, no idevice. It’s our time to connect with each other, to slow down and take time find out what’s going on in each other’s lives. I also do this for myself. Between meditation time, work outs, or just sitting and petting the cats, I cherish and cultivate my time alone. I do this for a few reasons.
I’m an introvert.
Let’s be clear, I’m not shy. I can and often do talk to anyone. But I am an introvert because my recharge time is solitude. I find people have trouble distinguishing shy and introvert. They are often shocked, or more to the point disbelieving, when I tell them I’m introverted.
Silence lets me tune into myself and the world around me.
Growing up I was constantly surrounded by sound. Television, radio, magnetic tape and vinyl based mp3 players (some of you will get those references… I hope) were always on. I could walk through our house and there would be a different device on in each room, generally on a different station and no one in the room. This constant distraction kept my mind perpetually unfocused. It jumped from one stimulus to another but never truly stayed long enough to appreciate any of them. Silence gives me the space to focus on anything I choose.
Paying attention highlights the humor in life
Life is a funny thing. Internet cat videos aside, life is much funnier when I watch it in real time and give it my fullest attention. My daughter shares my sense of humor. I know this because I was in the middle of some stream of consciousness word play/song and I got stuck. She swooped in, threw in just the right word play and got me back on track. We laughed for probably 10 minutes after that. Watching my daughter’s mind work, watching the crazy things people (myself included) do sometimes is priceless and often good for the best laughs ever.
I find my balance
I discovered this benefit when I did my first Goofy race. I was doing my first four hour run, alone. Many people don’t like running that long alone. I didn’t initially. It gave me too much time to deal with my thoughts, which was tough in the beginning. Eventually I reached a point where all the junk was cleared out. I recognized the things I wanted to change; reactions, situations, people in my life. I learned on those long runs to create space in my life to consciously react to situations. This awareness (eventually) led me to consciously bring balance into my life through my choices.
Without silence, without that time of quiet where the outside distractions fall away I find it disturbingly easy to feel swept away and ungrounded. My decisions aren’t necessarily the best or kindest and it’s easy to become reactionary. While silence wasn’t comfortable initially I’ve come to value and relish my silent time. Go for a run, a walk, sit alone outside or inside, pet the cats, dog, hamster, whatever you want. But do it without music, electronics or other distractions. And most importantly, do it in silence. The silence can be deafening but it’s worth the effort.