Today, for this year’s Self-Care Retreat, I’m discussing Self Care by Setting the Stage with Silence as part of our theme of Inward Reflection.
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. (Note: this site is no longer active; it has been reborn as Iris Higgins.) 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!)
Self Care by Setting the Stage with Silence (What Does That Mean?)
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, to have 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.)
Some of my friends keep their televisions on every waking hour. Even if they have invited you over for a visit, the television remains on.
I genuinely 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—i.e., 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 for 5 minutes 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. See all my previous self-care discussions.
Originally published July 30, 2012; updated September 6, 2018.