I long for the stillness of meditative ocean sounds when I am on the remote and unknown Bailey Island in Maine. These sounds center and ground me. There is nothing but the background symphony of crashing waves; seagulls calling; lobster boats humming. This silence is everything!
No voices, chaos, rushing around, calls or texts. No pressure to post. Everyone is asleep. Just silence.
These moments are everything to me – refreshments for my soul. I need this away time on Bailey Island, as well as when I am back at home, in my everyday space, far away from the island’s peaceful shelter. This, I know about myself, and have always known this – the need for “me” time and protection from life’s constant incoming stimulation that today bombards us at undescribable levels.
This is the introverted part of my extroverted self, and I am an example that one can “be” both an introvert and extrovert. Supposedly, this term is ambivert. Not really sure that Carl Jung, founder of the classification system of extroverts or introverts, mentioned the word ambivert. Though I think he was open to this blurred-line area, the gray area that is most of our lives.
My need for silence, like food and water, is a necessity for my survival. This quiet revives my physical and mental states. Transforms them. Centers me. Without it, I would be a different being.
The daily practice
I only can find, and carve out, this quiet in the early morning hours. This works for me. At home, away from the ocean sounds and time off, I have my 20-minute daily ritual of sitting, and being. A sea full of presence. I am alone in stillness. Just my cat Smoky and me. She snuggles in between my journals and the right indentation of my lap. She too is cocooning from life’s everyday stressors that for her is chasing a fly in the house. Our early morning lull has become her ritualistic practice too.
Smoky among the silence
The extracurricular sounds of the birds outside the window, like the background ocean sounds, do not interrupt us. Their melodious baritones and sopranos – their own language and words – marry well with the sunrise and our morning silence.
I have this down now, but this has not been the case always. Silent time and I were not friends, because my mind was, and is, never quiet. Constantly churning, my mind is like the Energizer Bunny – it keeps going and going.
For years, at many different times, I tried to sit quietly – relax, meditate, get in the zone, make the “OM” sounds from deep within. Since generating this sound would make all the difference, right? (Have you ever tried this? You know what I am talking about don’t you?) Well, I simply could not get it. When I made the attempt, the movie reel of checklists and to-dos in my mind began and moved at lightening speed. The anxiety kicked in at high speed.
Constantly churning, my mind is like the Energizer Bunny – it keeps going and going!
Carving our own way
The pandemic did many things, to many people, including me. Among its chaos, it gifted me time. I used it for me, and bit by bit, I strapped silence into my early mornings. I began using Calm, a relaxation and meditation app. (No I am not getting paid to mention this. When I find something amazing I like to share it.) I admit that I am one of those people who needs the guidance of a soothing, inviting voice to take me down this path. Since I could not go to a physical space during the pandemic, and I did not want to, the app was, and still is, perfect for me. Some people may scoff at using an app for silence; it works for me, and many others, so I hear. (Remember, don’t judge a book by its cover?) As an aside, I also love Commune.
Finally – woohoo! I was doing it – meditating. Transported to another land. (Yes, really!) I will tell you honestly, because that is the only way. At times, it was, and still is, hard. To get me going, I dove into the 30 days of “How to Meditate” with Jeff. I needed to learn how to be silent mentally and physically. And, Jeff taught me daily that there is no right or wrong way to be still. It is our own way. Yet, he illuminated steps in which I could help myself practice. I did not really “see” because my eyes were closed, but you know what I mean right?
So, after my 30-days with Jeff, who was super helpful, even if he did not know it because he was inside the app, I continued the practice. I still do so. It is a non-negotiable for me.
Daily, I keep my discipline in tact; I sit with my new Calm teacher Tamara. (Sorry Jeff to leave you but I resonated more with Tamara’s voice.) I think I am a good student. Yet, Tamara has not given me her feedback, since she too is in the app. If I miss a day, because well life is life, I do not stress about it. Tamara does not scold me either! And in congratulatory fashion, I pat my own back for missing only two days since the start of 2021.
Seeing more with silence
For years in business, I woke early, to do more before the actual hustle and bustle of the day began – to work before most others’ actual work days started and to cram more into my waking hours. Scheduling every minute of the day was just so wise, right?
Now, I wake early to do less, which is more for me, as well as everyone around me. I see and hear more clearly, calmly and vividly. While my mind is still blazing, and always will be, I embrace that and use it to my advantage. Yet, finally, I feel the magic of the quiet, and I am much more creative!
Therefore, I am a better me – businesswoman, teacher, partner, caretaker and mother – because the silence brings forth everything – the essence of me, the essence of my life.
Tips to embrace your silence
- Carve out the same time everyday. This allows you to get into the habit of making it a priority, just like brushing your teeth.
- Be patient. It takes time to learn how to be silent and allow the mind to “declutter.” It is the opposite of something to conquer.
- Be easy on yourself. The practice of showing up each day is part of it. Some days there will be blocks. Accept it.
- Allow things to happen. Sometimes in the moments of silence, thoughts enter the mind – the to-dos, checklists, financials. Sit with them. Recognize them. Allow them to exit just as they entered.
- Try it. There is so much to find in trying.
Photo courtesy of @Sairaphotography.