Do you know what silence sounds like? Better yet, the sound beyond silence? I'm not talking about a world devoid of screaming children, honking horns or the Kardashians (although wouldn't THAT be nice?).
We can't control the noises outside of us, but we do have control over our reaction to the never-ending stimulus around us.
How do we cultivate more peace and serenity in the midst of a mad, mad world?
Here are five sneaky ways to squeeze silence, or at least some serenity, into your day.
1. Taking Public Transportation.
If you live in a major metropolis, odds are you're taking a subway, train, bus or some other public mode of transportation, (unless you live in LA, in which case, jump to #2). This is the time to shut out the world. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and see what your mind does when the senses begin to disengage. Watch your thoughts and then let them pass. Five days a week of this, and after a month or two, you'll begin to listen to full blown meditations during your rides.
While I don't promote closing your eyes and going "inside" when clearly your attention should be outside on the road and your surroundings, I will say turn off all excess noise and tune into the task at hand. I love a good car dance party as much as the next person (probably more than the next person, actually). However, at least a few times a week I drive in complete silence. If you take this approach, notice if you're thinking about flipping off every person who changes lanes without a blinker, or about how to mastermind an excuse to get out of that date you really shouldn't have said yes to. Maybe that's just me. Then take some more deep breaths and continue to be present.
3. Standing in line.
This is a perfectly safe environment to zone out. Next time you are in line at a grocery store, put down the trash mag and close your eyes. Are you still obsessing about your list? Forget it. Everything you need is in your cart. Will it kill you if the guy ahead of you has 11 items instead of 10? Probably not. So resist the urge to give him a dirty look. And look inside. Often times, I look for the longer line just to give myself permission to move in.
4. Taking a coffee break.
But don't drink coffee. Recently, I was speaking to a Whole Foods employee who mentioned that the supermarket chain encourages team members to sneak off to the closet if they really need to close their eyes and take five. If it comes to this, sit in the stall for an extra few minutes. Take those deep breaths. Notice if the momentum of your day is taking over and overwhelming you. This is one instance where you don't want to go with the flow. You want to stop the rushed flow to break the momentum and return to tasks, focused, calm and centered. You'll be more productive and maybe even bust out of work early to get to yoga class. Just a suggestion
5. Closing Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and any and all social network sites.
I'm as guilty as anyone for being easily distracted by much of the nonsense we find on the Internet. But again, it's about stopping the momentum. Begin to notice when the urge creeps in to open another window. Stop. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Think of all the "mini" social network breaks you take throughout your day. Chances are that will add up to an entire hour of silence.
It's a matter of stopping the momentum of your day every now and then to notice the patterns that subconsciously run your life and your thoughts. You can't stop the world, but, as difficult as it may be, you can stop and witness your mind. Practice makes perfect. So keep practicing, and let me know how it's going!