"In the attitude of silence, the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth."
Silence: The state of being still and silent.
In our civilized world, we enjoy numerous conveniences. Like everyone else, I enjoy most of them. But with the invention of electricity, we created 24-hour lives, constantly feed by input or, better stated, noise. So what is the impact of such a noisy environment and lifestyle? Letís see.
I recently had the opportunity to attend an outdoor retreat -- camping in a tent, which for me is equivalent to having a root canal. Anyway, there was no paper or books to read or TV, cell phone, or landline for almost a week. All input was either provided by the retreat program or by my quieted internal thoughts; no other vices were available to fill or stimulate my mind.
I canít ever recall a time in the past decade where I was able to do this for an entire week. I canít explain the quietness that occurred in my mind and soul, but it was peaceful. Those of you who already have significant quiet time in your life know what I mean; for those who donít have quiet time, it is difficult to describe the incredible grounding that occurs when you are not overloaded with input.
In the past I have tried to have quiet times of reflection and, of course, the phone would ring or an urgent project happened to drop in for a visit in your thoughts. Until experiencing this retreat event, I had no consciousness of how powerful true silence can be for your overall health and wellness.
This notion happens to be backed up by medical science. True relaxation (sitting on the beach in Hawaii doesnít quite count) has a physiological effect on your body and mind. Let me explain.
During one episode of Star Trek - The New Generation, the crew was affected with a virus that did not permit them to dream or go into delta wave patterns of sleep (Iíll explain that in a moment). The result was that one-by-one each, crew member started to go insane. They simply could not function without dreams and delta wave patterns. And a lifestyle that has continuous, constant noise and input (a lack of silence and quiet times) is doing to the same to each of us. We do not give ourselves time to seriously recover. Stress-related health problems have never been higher; the non-stop input around us is one of the contributing factors.
There also has been much medical documentation on Vietnam vets who, after several tours, were constantly running on adrenaline. When they came back from their theater of operations, their bodies would not relax or calm down; this caused a viscous cycle of high methane that was medically creating imbalance and instability in their lives.
Have you ever had nights (or even days) where your mind would not stop racing and your thoughts were almost uncontrollable . . . and the harder you tried to relax, the less you could? Finally in total exhaustion, you collapsed into sleep only to wake up the next morning feeling completely exhausted?
Letís look at the biological makeup affecting our physical and mental consciousness. We all operate on four forms of brain waves.
1. Beta is our alert, fully awake mode of 12 to 16 cycles per second.
2. The second type is called alpha: 8 to 12 cycles per second. This is where you feel your greatest creativity and also memory. Example: when you forgot something and tried to remember and could not, then afterward, when you relaxed, the name or detail came to you. Sound familiar?
3. The third is theta, which is 4 to 8 cycles per second. This is where you begin to feel drowsy or even sleepy.
4. And finally, delta waves cycle at 1 to 4 cycles per second; usually you are in various levels of sleep.
Our brain waves must be balanced so we can feel fulfillment and function optimally in our lives. If, overall, you have too much beta , for example, and not enough of the other forms of brain waves -- and your body and brain donít have time to recover or regenerate -- your abilities the next day are reduced. I know this is an oversimplification of a complex medical subject but my point here is that always being full-on in life -- without a balance of recovery and silence -- is a recipe for disaster.
Silence and stillness have been replaced by constant input and/or movement. But imagine the opposite ? where you are in the mountains in a log cabin with no development or anyone else around . . . It is night; a fresh snowfall covers the ground and trees. As you step outside, the only sound is the snow. There in that moment is the powerful sound of silence.
If you have not done this for a while -- just being quiet and still -- you might find it more difficult to do than you think. I have personal experience on that one. But I encourage all who are reading this article to claim the power of being silent and still . . . to actually increase your fulfillment by simply doing nothing and being entirely in the moment.
Action Steps to Help Introduce the Power of Silence into Your Life,
1. Take a moment to reflect on how much quiet time you really have in your life.
2. Think about all the input and activities you allow into your life every day; determine which ones are essential and which ones can be omitted. Watching the same CNN Headlines for four hours in a row might be a bit much!
3. Make a list of all unnecessary, frivolous stimuli that you add to the noise in your life. Much of it can be reduced or omitted entirely . . . such as having the TV on all day while you do housework and other similar examples.
4. Start to replace your noise with silence.
5. Set aside a time that is convenient, where you can have silence and relaxation on a deeper and longer time frame . . . a day in the forest, at home with all the "conveniences" off.
6. Commit, once or twice a year, to going to a place where you have no opportunity for outside input; spend time with none other than yourself. Each time, youíre stay longer in duration. Pay attention to the process to see if you can actually quieten yourself enough to not have racing thoughts.
7. Help others in your life reduce their noise, too.
Until next time, keep Living On Purpose.
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Ken Keis is an internationally known author, speaker, consultant, & President of CRG. Many professionals herald CRG as the # 1 global resource center for Personal/Professional Development.
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