“Others inspire us, information feeds us, practice improves our performance, but we need quiet time to figure things out, to emerge with new discoveries, to unearth original answers.” Ester Buchholz
“There’s no more idle time.” This was a statement said to me while talking with a social media consultant. His point being, that we’re typically filling what used to be idle time, or quiet, reflective time, with social media activities. Think about it. You’re sitting in an office waiting room, you’re waiting in a check-out line, what do you observe? What are most people engaged in? Reflection? Silence? Chatting with strangers? Probably not. Most likely, they’re on their phones, texting, face booking, snap chatting, tweeting, talking. While I contend that there’s nothing wrong with any of those passers of time, I do contend that we deny ourselves the chance to take advantage of relaxation and reflection opportunities as we overuse them.
As I view it, we appear to be less and less comfortable with being alone with ourselves. Is there a reluctance to be fully present to our own thoughts? Is there a reluctance to be connected to our immediate environment, or the people around us? Seems so. Why else would we self-isolate by means of social media and ear-buds?
Ok, confession time, I’m judgmental. I love to walk in areas where I’m surrounded by the sounds and sights of nature. I like to hear birds singing, wind jostled tree leaves, even my own footsteps on the path. Here comes my judgment…why do folks walk in such areas with ear-buds fully in place, listening to who-knows-what, when they are surrounded by the symphonic music of nature? I want to yell at them – “Be connected to your environment!” Of course they wouldn’t hear me with ear-buds securely in place. Oh well.
I’ve previously quoted author Wayne Muller from his book, Sabbath. “All life requires a rhythm of rest…Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing.”
“There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.” Gandhi
Some good questions to ask ourselves; “How good am I at doing nothing?” ” “How often do I permit myself the luxury of daydreaming, just staring out into space, letting my mind wander?” How often do I say “No, not now” to my mobile phone?
Albert Einstein said, “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.” I agree. I also believe that intuition, or wisdom, can be best heard in the silence, in the quiet of your own mind and heart, not while pecking away on our cell phone. Einstein also said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Tune in to your intuition and wisdom. Access these innate resources. Utilize these sacred gifts to guide your rational mind, and thus your life. Get quiet, spend time in solitude, meditate, journal.
Regarding intuition, in her book Your Body Believes Every Word You Say, author Barbara Hoberman Levin describes her daughter Jennifer as having a well-developed intuitive sense. Jennifer often says things like, “I don’t know why, but something tells me I should do this,” or “A voice inside me tells me not to eat this.” I suggest that we all have intuitive messages coming at us. However, in order to hear them, we need to make the time to listen. Just listen. Put the phone down, close the laptop cover, ignore the IPad for a while, and just be. That’s it, just be. Give yourself the privilege of being alone with your own thoughts daily.
Some suggestions for quiet time:
- Journaling – I like what Julia Cameron suggests in her book The Artist’s Way, fill three pages with journaling every morning. Even if you don’t think you have anything to write. Even if you write “This seems stupid” just write. Three pages every morning.
- Meditation – Just be and let any thoughts come to you that want to come to you. You might also meditate on a flower, or a piece of fruit. Take it in your hands and study it, really study it. Note textures, aromas, how the light reflects off it. Notice its weight. Appreciate it.
- Walking – Take a walk, listen to sounds, notice the little things, notice the smells, the wind, colors, be fully present during your walk.
- Just sitting – Just sit with absolutely no agenda other than perhaps gazing out a window
- Create your own activity to be fully alone with yourself
“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” Rollo May
We live in miraculous world of immediate communication. We can instantly access others and they can access us. It’s really a good thing that can be taken to such an extreme that we lose communication with ourselves. Not a good thing. Take time for you. Take time to alone with your best friend…yourself. Journal, meditate, walk, reflect.