July Self-Care Retreat: Inward Reflection … Setting the Stage with Silence

camping, Shenandoah River, Blue Ridge Mountains, gluten free, Go Ahead Honey It's Gluten Free

One View at Our Mountain Property on the Shenandoah River

Inward Reflection is the last theme of our July Self-Care Retreat. Iris (The Daily Dietribe), who is this week’s host, shared her Five-Minute Self-Care Scan with us all. It’s such a simple, but potentially life-changing concept. Valerie (City|Life|Eats) shared her additional thoughts on Iris’ approach and a similar check that she does. (I love Valerie’s “accentuate the positive” approach!) Last, Cheryl (Gluten-Free Goodness and Harris Whole Health), who is our event hostess, shared a whole roundup of meditation and mindfulness resources that one can use for inward reflection. (I use some of these myself—great listing!)

blog event, self care, meditation, movement, creativity, food, inward reflection

Most of us lament the passage of time and if we don’t take time to evaluate where we are or follow our hearts, we can look back and end up unsatisfied with our lives. That’s not a good feeling. I’m a fan of quotes as you probably already know if you’re a regular gfe reader. So many speak to me and stop me in my tracks. I use them as inspirational tools. Sure, I forget a lot of them, and need new quotes daily to be re-inspired, or at least a re-reading of my favorite quotes daily. I’m human, just like you are; I get distracted with the busyness of life. The next thing you know—or so it seems—whole months and years have passed.

Inspirational quotes, blog posts, and emails often fuel me and make me focus on the present. One email that I received from a friend several years ago is up on my office wall near my computer monitor so I can’t forget its message. It’s called How to Really Live. I’ve always said that my biggest fear in life is to not live life to its fullest. It sounds cliche, I know, but the fear remains true for me and something I think about a lot. Plus, it leads me to one of my favorite quotes: “Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.” (This quote is attributed to H. Jackson Brown, Jr., who is no relation to the rock artist by the similar name, but is the author of Life’s Little Instruction Book.)

I won’t share all of the How to Really Live email wisdom with you (and note that if you search online, you’ll find several different versions), but the 24 nuggets of wisdom in the version I have are all excellent. Interestingly enough—or perhaps not surprisingly—they are all related to self care in some way. Some examples are: #1 – Take a 10 – 30 minute walk every day and while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.” … #4 - “Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.” … and # 7 - Don’t waste your precious energy on energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.” All are common sense, but all are not commonly followed by most. However, it’s the following one, #2, that speaks the loudest (irony intended) when it comes to the topic of Inward Reflection.

“Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Buy a lock if you have to.”

I especially love that last part. In other words, this task is non-negotiable. Don’t let the demands of others keep you from getting your 10 minutes of silence. In my opinion, one absolutely has to have daily silence to have inward reflection and, I should add, self care.

Silence is a gift like no other. Yes, as that old adage states, “Silence is golden.” Frankly, I start getting a tad anxious and a little overwhelmed, if I don’t get my daily dose of silence. And silence in general is becoming a rarity in most places in our world. Even relative quiet is hard to find. For example, so many public places, like restaurants and airports, have televisions all over the place. Televisions are the ultimate noise machine in my opinion. (Although some might say cell phones and cell phone conversations trump television … it is a close competition for sure.) I visit some friends who keep their televisions on every waking hour. Even if they have invited you over for a visit, the television remains on. I love these friends, but the television being the third party in the room makes me crazy. The constant chatter (even without getting into the content) distracts from real life … i.e., from what’s important. I watch television, but it has its place in our house. I don’t use it as background noise.

Similarly, I love music, but I never listen to music when I’m in nature. If I were to listen to the Top 40 or my all-time favorite CD when I’m taking a walk, I’m going to miss that fancy song by the cardinal or the new cricket-like noise that Mr. or Mrs. Carolina Wren use to lure us away from the babies the other parent is tending to in our newspaper box. (As you can see, our newspaper carrier let us know that Mr. and Mrs. Carolina Wren has established residence in our paper box.) When we go camping on our mountain property on the Shenandoah River, we rarely take a radio along and if we do, it only gets turned on for a weather forecast once or twice during a weekend. The sound of the river rushing over the rapids and all the animal sounds (from the neighbor’s donkey and guineas, the screech owl, the blue heron, the geese, etc.) are so much more appealing than recorded music and don’t take away from getting back to one’s self—inward reflection.

Have you heard about the retreats at monasteries, communes, and the like, where folks can go for a weekend (or longer) and pay to do simple or strenuous chores, get their room and board, and everyone who participates never speaks a word the entire time? The attendees return to “real life” saying how refreshed they are and how the silence has allowed them to sort out woes that have been troubling them for ages.

There is inherent value in silence and silence always leads to inward reflection. It can be freestyle inward reflection or guided inward reflection (as Iris and Valerie share). Or it can be “quieting the mind” as yoga and meditation practitioners instruct, with inward reflection coming through your subconscious mind versus active self querying and “thinking in your head.” Personally, I am particularly a victim of “monkey mind”–that non-stop chatter in one’s head that can drive one bonkers—when I don’t get my daily dose of silence.

Now many of you reading may be thinking that with your family and work obligations you can’t even snag 10 minutes of silence, even with that aforementioned lock. But with some effort and planning, you most likely can secure that alone time for silence. You may need to try some alternative strategies, and even use baby steps if needed. Get up 10 minutes earlier or stay up 10 minutes longer while everyone else is sleeping or settling in, respectively. Turn off the radio in your car for your 10-minute solo drive to pick up the kids from school. Wait in the parking lot for the kids to finish up soccer practice without the radio on or without listening to your audio book. The latter is one of my favorite ways to get in some self-care, but the audio book du jour can be paused it that’s the only way you will get your daily dose of silence. Ten minutes, that’s all you need, and I assure you that a feeling of peace and a time of inward reflection will come. Can’t manage 10 minutes of silence? Start with 5 minutes. Set a timer and just sit in the quiet with no other distractions. Even 5 minutes of silence will seem like a true gift to yourself.

There are many other ways to get in 10 minutes of silence. I hope you will be willing to share yours (or your favorite way), as well as your most successful ways to accomplish inward reflection in comments. Last, be sure to check out all the posts for our July Self-Care Retreat here.

Not just gf, but gfe!

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


23 Responses to “July Self-Care Retreat: Inward Reflection … Setting the Stage with Silence”

  1. Ricki on July 30th, 2012 9:57 pm

    Lovely advice, Shirley. We do tend to neglect these things, as we’ve discussed before–and that 10-minute rule is a great one, and very do-able!

    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:01 pm

      Thanks, Ricki! I hope we’re all getting in at least 10 minutes of silence daily and that we continue to do so. So restorative. :-)


  2. cheryl on July 30th, 2012 10:05 pm

    What an amazing post Shirley! I couldn’t agree more on…well, just about every single part. Silence is no longer something that happens accidentally, especially in our culture. And DH makes fun of me because I adore silent retreats (irony being that in real life, I’m often chattering away!)

    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:03 pm

      Thanks so much for the lovely feedback, Cheryl! I’m a chatterer, too (LOL), but I relish those silent times. We are so blessed to have our home in the woods and be insulated from so much of the everyday noise, but complete silence when I am home alone is the ultimate gift. I don’t want it all the time, but I do need my daily dose. ;-)


  3. SherriS. on July 31st, 2012 8:02 am

    This post is perfect. Your picture at the beginning is stunning and I could imagine hearing the river:)

    I’m in a phase of my life that I’m concentrating on me – understanding myself better and paying attention to what I need. One of my favorite retreats is pretty common taking a long hot soak while listening to Celtic or classical music.

    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:05 pm

      Hi Sherri–It’s great to see you! Thank you on all, dear. :-) The river is just fantastic … great to go to sleep, too, or just sit and listen. We never get tired of it. ;-)

      Ironically, I am too impatient to do long soaks in the tub, but I know how therapeutic they can be for so many. I’m glad you are one of them, and that you are heeding your own needs these days!


  4. Gail Mollencopf on July 31st, 2012 3:12 pm

    Haven’t done any of this in so long. Was just thinking need to get back at it. Confirms my thoughts..God doing for me…..

    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:07 pm

      Hi Gail–I’m so glad that you’ve found this post and other ones in our self-care event helpful. Enjoy those silences!


  5. Cindy W. on July 31st, 2012 7:51 pm

    Great post, Shirley. I start out my day in silence doing two rosaries while drinking my coffee. It starts my day off right.

    I am a huge quote fan as well. While in college I would start out a paper with a quote that tied into the theme and then wove it throughout the paper. When my oldest daughter was a senior I encouraged her to enter a scholarship from Seventeen magazine. She was stumped getting started so I suggested finding a quote to start with. She found a great one from Helen Keller and she ended up one of the top ten winners. I told her I should get a cut of her winnings – especially the shopping spree. (:

    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:11 pm

      Hi Cindy–I love that you’ve found your own daily routine where silence is a key part! :-)

      And, I just adore the story about your daughter winning a scholarship by using a Helen Keller quote as the basis of her paper! Such a great, great idea! Inspirational quotes just get many of us going on so many different things and in so many different ways. I’m sure you got your reward through experiencing great pride and daughter affection! ;-)


  6. fartygirl on July 31st, 2012 10:24 pm

    A multiple of fourteen?! Ha! That’s the way to my heart with fun old school arithamatick!

    Five minutes of silence is a GREAT way to recharge throughout the day, or at the very least, to feel some control over your life.

    I remember years ago, I was doing laundry, and the laundry got stuck in the washer something like five or ten minutes before it was done. Not wanting to leave and have to come back, I sat with my laundry until it was done washing. I had nothing with me. I just sat on a dryer and kicked my heels as the seconds ticked by.

    It was so peaceful.

    Today, I did this with my afternoon snack. I went and sat on a bench. I had no phone, no nothing. Just sat there and nommed and listened to birds.


    Thanks for this suggestion. I back it 150%!!!!!

    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:15 pm

      Hi fartygirl–Great point on silence bringing some control to one’s life! And I love that you shared that story about just waiting peacefully while your laundry finished. I think so often we miss those opportunities because we get impatient and don’t want to “waste time.” You are doing a terrific job of fully taking advantage of your “idle” moments. :-)

      Thanks so much for the comment! Will be watching for your next challenge involving #14. ;-)

  7. Linda on August 1st, 2012 12:16 am

    I like that smile as you walk idea, especially since I walk every day.

    I enjoy times of quite throughout the day, but my times of real silence are probably when I’m in bed–while I’m falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning. Sometimes I stay in bed for 10 min even after I’m awake. My mind isn’t cluttered from the day yet, and I can think about the things that are most important or just let my mind be still.

    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:20 pm

      Linda–We all know the advice on smiling changing one’s whole demeanor—and it truly does—so why not while we’re walking, right? Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself to keep smiling when walking, but it definitely is an instant mood lifter for me. I hope you find so, too. :-)

      What a terrific idea on using that time in bed!! We can all do that without changing our schedule significantly, and who wouldn’t like a “mandated” extra 10 minutes in bed. ;-) Plus, you are so right that one’s mind is not cluttered yet, and is, therefore, more receptive to the silence and just “being.”

      Thanks so much for sharing your approach to needed silence with us!

  8. amber on August 1st, 2012 11:17 pm


    What a beautiful post. We just got the kids in bed and here I sit checking a few emails before I start my evening chores and simply reading this post made me feel so calm. I love it.

    You’re so right. We can all carve out at least 10 minutes each day.

    I also have to comment on the listening to music in nature…I thought I was the only one! I actually don’t even own a (oh geez, I don’t even know what they are called…ipod)? I’m so with you about loving the sounds of nature. There is nothing better than those glorious sounds. This is why I’m an avid camper – being in nature is my favorite…and listening to nature is just down right therapeutic. My family camped A LOT growing up. As a child I remember waking up in my tent, a little warmth from the sun tickling my face and hearing nothing but birds, the wind through the pine trees, and the gentle rush of the stream – and oh those smells.

    And I’ve always wanted to do a silence retreat. My yoga instructor friend does them with her partner once a year (3 days). She raves about it.

    I’m really enjoying all these posts, Shirley. :-)

    Have a great night.


    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:26 pm

      Hi Amber–Thanks so much. You always give the best and most supportive feedback! :-)

      Yay on being my “buddy” when it comes to protecting and relishing the sounds of nature! We used to have dear friends who’d come camping with us, and while we loved them being there, we could have done without the music they always had going. I love music, but one truly misses so much of nature that way. I love all your descriptions of camping … they are “right on”! I don’t think we’ll give up tent camping until the point where we can no longer crawl in that open door, for the very reasons you’ve described. We had a camper briefly and just hated it; it was not our thing, just too removed from nature.

      I think even one day of complete silence would be fascinating and therapeutic. Bravo to your yoga instructor and her partner for finding that retreat for themselves!

      Thanks again, dear! xoxo,

  9. Kim (Cook IT Allergy Free) on August 2nd, 2012 12:29 am

    Oh I love this. I try…really really hard…to do this almost every day. I am usually pretty good about it and I swear it makes me feel so much better and centered about the rest of the day. I will say it is far easier to do it when the kids are off at school than when they are home. There are not many silent moments in my house when everyone is home. LOL

    But I just love your perspective and, of course, I totally share your love for quotes!! :D


    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:31 pm

      Kim–I know you are good about seeking the silence/quiet time, even with your little guys around. Little guys are only quiet when they’re sleeping for sure. ;-) But I agree, that silence/quiet time is amazingly powerful.

      From one quote queen to another, thank you so much! Seek your little bit of silence today. :-)

  10. Sophie on August 2nd, 2012 5:16 am

    great & lovely advice which I do at least 1 hour a day! :) I love silence a lot!

    • Shirley on August 2nd, 2012 1:34 pm

      Sophie–At least an hour a day is awesome!! The funny thing is that I think most of us really could do an hour a day, IF we gave up other activities in our lives that don’t contribute to our well being. :-)

      Thanks so much for sharing your appreciation of silence! xo,

  11. Megan @ Allergy Free Alaska on August 2nd, 2012 2:36 pm

    Beautiful post, Shirley. What a great reminder!

    I stay up later than I really should, just so I get those precious moments of silence while everyone else is snuggled asleep in bed. It is in those moments I very often receive the “system reset” that I desperately need!

Leave a reply

Related Posts with Thumbnails