Quietly, spend some quality time with yourself. If you can, spend a whole day alone, in quiet. Henry David Thoreau went out into the woods to live deliberately and find quiet. That is difficult to do in this day and age where most of us work and are guided around by our mobile phones and email. As Jean Arp wrote,
“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation…tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation.”
And since Arp’s time, the gray vegetation spreads. It may be difficult for you to find a whole day, but try to carve out a small portion of time for yourself where you can have quiet, alone time.
As our brains are switched on all the time, it is good to give them a chance to relax for a bit. Rather than cramming them with messages, work, forced play, or some sort of media, take the time just to really relax. You’re looking for a chance to expose yourself to yourself.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys being alone, then take this time to consciously shutdown the talkative side of your brain. Imagine you’re a monk or a nun at a convent where there is only silence. The calming effect of this exercise is eye opening and sometimes profound. For others it may be difficult and boring. There are no correct responses to this exercise. The point is to calm the mind, even for a bit. When you do this, it is like emptying your cup, washing it out, and drying it, ready to again fill it up again. If you just keep filling and filling the cup, it soon overflows and you miss the chance to drink and taste. This time to empty yourself allows you the opportunity to fill it with new and fresh ideas.
Try this: Find a day and spend it by yourself alone. If a day is too long or not possible, search for a morning or afternoon. And if you can’t find this, try to find an hour where you can sit quietly or go out and walk the streets. Better yet, find a place in nature to walk, sit, amble. The point is to let your mind relax. What you are searching for in a day of quiet is to find the place the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius knew well: “No where can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” Don’t expect to find earth-shattering awakenings or enlightenment. Don’t expect to find anything. Leave expectation at home. All you’re doing is giving yourself a mini-vacation where you can go out and see, feel, hear the world, live outside of yourself while being inside of yourself without noise. Leave your phone at home. Leave your headphones. Just you and the world. Enjoy!