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A Personal Note About the Benefits of Silence

Posted Mar 25 2010 12:46pm

Last weekend I shared two stories of silent practices from other people.  Today I want to share a personal perspective on the benefits of silent or meditative practices.

I left the house yesterday around 7am for an early meeting. I arrived back home by 9:15am. And that’s when my thoughts started running wild.

Start project A…No, I promised So & So I’d work on Project B…But I need to make that phone call…oh, I think I’m hungry…No, I’m not hungry, I’m stressed…No, I’m hungry…

I began mindlessly slicing cheese and piling it on a cracker.  (Confession:  When stressed my foods of choice include some cheese/carb combo or chocolate/peanut butter combo)

Food didn’t help and only served to create more stress.  Now I felt guilty for eating when I wasn’t hungry.  Back to my thoughts…

Meditate, Stacey.  You need silence…No, I need to run, that triathlon is coming up…I don’t feel like running…yoga…Ok, I know, I’ll bike for 30 minutes, yoga and then meditate…Ok, bike 20, yoga 20, meditate 20.

Can you relate to this constant back and forth of thoughts?  I call it the tennis match in my head.  With a “monkey mind” like that, I probably should have dropped everything and sat silently for the whole hour.  I was exhausted.  I ended up biking for 20 minutes,  gently stretching for 20 minutes and meditating for 20 minutes.  I chose to focus on the word “focus” for this sitting practice.

I knew what I needed, I knew it would help and I still resisted. I’ve made a career out of teaching these practices! Why was I resisting what I KNEW would benefit me?  Fear of not getting my work done?  Fear of appearing “weak”?  In the end, I sat, and the time in silence worked.  Within minutes I felt lighter and a smile crept onto my face.  I had more clarity about the projects I’m working on and how best to prioritize them.  Some of the challenges that I faced suddenly had clear solutions.  I couldn’t wait to get up and begin working again.  I sat for the full 20 minutes, feeling more calm, focused and refreshed than when I started.

I haven’t always been able to beat the resistance.

When first introduced to the practice I resisted it.  “I don’t have time for this!”  I would convince myself.  A lot of time passed before it became a regular habit.  (I’ll share the story of how I got here in a separate post.)

Meditation has become a powerful tool in my toolbox for those moments when I feel stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated or angry. This practice keeps me “in charge” of my thoughts, emotions and ability to “get things done”.   The best part: silence is free, requires no special equipment, and I can take it with me anywhere.  Powerful stuff.

With a relaxed mind, I can more effectively get things done. And that is feel-good living.

What about you?  Are there benefits you’ve experienced with a silent practice?  Have you read the benefits of the practice and you resist?

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