Those of us who stayed in our Vero Beach homes during Hurricane Irma will never forget the high-volume howling sounds made by strong winds and heavy rain all day on Sunday, September 10th. Monday brought such a welcome change in the noise level that my normal appreciation of quiet was multiplied many times. The silence after the storm was more than a relief – it was an experience of deep gratitude that opened the door to restoring serenity after a time of high stress. I began thinking about how important silence is to our everyday life, outside of crisis times.
Let’s be honest: Our world is noisy and demanding. Our inner serenity – that is, the creator of quiet harmony and peace of mind – needs daily tending. The author Linda Popov gives this priority to quietness: “Whatever your beliefs are, stillness and reflection are as essential to your spirit and your character as food is for your body.” How do we cultivate quiet stillness in a noisy world? Here are a few things I do.
One of my favorite ways to restore myself is to walk outside in nature to a location where I am alone. I shut my noisy mind down, breath deeply, and listen to bird songs and the music of wind rustling through the trees. In quietness, serenity is restored.
When weather doesn’t allow for outdoor time, I go into the bedroom, close the door (if my husband is home I put a note on the door that says DO NOT DISTURB), wrap myself in my prayer shawl (every survivor receives one from the Prayerful Knitters by way of Friends After Diagnosis – if you do not have one, let us know), and quietly meditate. Turning off all technology is a must for cultivating quiet. Performing a few slow, purposeful yoga moves also helps silence the mind. The author Marianne Williamson puts it this way: “The more still you become, the more the universe moves into powerful action on your behalf. The less still you are – the more emotionally and mentally fidgety you are – the more the universe stays stuck in old patterns of energy, reflecting the general chaos of your own psyche.”
One of the easiest ways to quiet ourselves is to pay attention to breathing. In a stressful situation a few deep breaths can lower both anxiety and blood pressure. Another author, David Kundtz, suggests what he calls Stillpoints. This is making use of small periods of time throughout the day such as waiting in line, waiting through a red light, waiting in the doctor’s office, waiting for coffee to heat in the microwave, or even a bathroom break. This could also be done during a variety of medical treatments including chemo or radiation. Pay attention to slowly breathing in and breathing out during these times, while remembering a message that is powerful for you such as, “You are loved, you have plenty of time to complete your tasks, you feel peaceful,” or mentally listing what you are grateful for today. Doing this several times a day nurtures your sense of inner peace and stillness even in the busiest schedules.
What do you do to still yourself? Let’s learn from each other! If you have a quieting practice you would like to share, please use the comment section to describe what you do. One of the strengths of Friends After Diagnosis is pooling our wisdom for the benefit of all. Marianne Williamson says, “When enough of us learn to become deeply, profoundly quiet then the hysteria of the world will begin to subside. Through the power of silence, the energies of chaos will be brought back to harmony – not by you, but through you, as all miracles are.” She believes the most powerful thing we can do is to be quiet. Remember the old saying, “Don’t just sit there, do something”? Recently I read the seeker of silence interpretation of this, which turned it around so that the message is, “Don’t just do something, sit there.”
For those of us still living with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and for those of us living with before-, during-, and after-cancer issues, a daily practice of quiet time will put us in touch with our inner wisdom, creative ideas, compassion, courage, and faith – all are needed to help us be consistent and intuitive in our self-care. Melody Beattie wrote, “It is our job to determine what’s best for ourselves. Each of us is given the ability to be able to discern and detect our own path, on a daily basis. This is not always easy. We may have to struggle to reach that quiet, still place.” But, just as the silence after Irma was profound, the quiet we intentionally create for ourselves is no less profound. It is an essential step in our own healing process. Today may the gifts found in silence bless us all.
Until Next Time – Sylvia