Shut up world, I'm being silent
Updated: May 30, 2022
There is rarely a time when I have only one thing on my mind. At the moment, specifically, it's filled with a multitude of never-ending questions about the sale of our house; requests for information from surveyors, demands from solicitors, and reminders from estate agents. This overwhelming noise wakes me in the night, creeps up on me midway through dinner, and spoils many a movie that I watch to try to take my mind off real life.
100% no doubt, selling our house this time has been one of the most stressful experiences of my life. I'm not being dramatic, I'm not exaggerating - it really has. Selling and buying property is very much a process that is largely out of anyone's total control, very much reliant on others, and quite simply a bloody mind-boggle to navigate through. Buyers pull out, sellers pull out, and there's nothing you can do about it...apart from picking up the pieces, paying the surveyors and solicitors a small fortune, and then starting all over again!
The battle against the noise
Managing any kind of stress is a fight. Kind of like a Star Wars battle between bad and good. It takes real effort and a combination of intricate strategies to combat the dark side.
It's definitely not a one-solution-fits-all approach, and you must trial and error the practices that are going to work best for you.
Lately, I've been finding it hard to write, which is weird because usually, my laptop is my go-to place to offload and rant. What I have found instead, is that doing nothing helps. That is doing absolutely nothing at all. When I feel the stress beginning to mount up in my brain and stomach, I just take myself somewhere I can be alone for five minutes, sit or lie down and be still. Complete quiet, no noise, and no distractions. Woe betides anyone who dares to enter!
The secret of silence
Silence is so soothing. It's refreshing and surprisingly re-invigorating. In our noisy world full of opinions, politics, and podcasts, we really don’t experience a great deal of quiet. But it's SO SO nice. It's important and it's vital to our mental wellbeing.
During my silent time-outs, I feel I can regain focus, clarity, and balance. Even though my mind might still race with thoughts and noise sometimes, I don't have other noise to fight with it and make things more chaotic.
In my Yoga Maison classes, I've recently been adding a minute of silence at the end of each class. Sixty whole seconds lasts a long time when you are lying there with no sound at all. I'm always surprised just how long it takes for those hands to click round the clock before I ring my little chime to awaken my students to end the class. But, I feel it gives people the time to process, clear out and re-gain focus before they leave the studio to continue with the rest of their day. I've had only good feedback so far.
Don't just take my word from it
You may think that playing music or listening to a podcast while working gives you motivation and energy, but I challenge you to try working in silence for one day and noting the difference in terms of your mood as well as your productivity.
And, there are results to back up this theory too. A 2021 study found that those who worked in silence experienced the least cognitive load and lowest stress levels compared to those who worked with noise, music, and speech during tasks that required concentration. If you are working from home, this is a total blessing - you don't have to listen to the exhausting office banter, the rubbish radio station your boss likes or the weekly fire alarm tests.
Silence has also been scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure, reduce cortisol and improve insomnia too.
But, silence takes practice
Despite the many benefits of silence, it's like gold dust for many of us.
If you asked my husband to sit in a room for five minutes in silence with nothing to do, he would struggle to last for thirty seconds of it. Bless him.
The fact is, doing nothing isn't easy for many people. Especially those who do have a lot on their mind or a lot to think about. Silence can be weird, scary, and lonely for some. It takes intention, regular practice, and commitment to master.
Therefore, I recommend that you start small. Begin with a one-minute daily silence. Choose a time when you won't be easily distracted and just be still for a while with your own thoughts. Starting early in the morning can be a good time as your mind won't have yet been occupied with too much information, so you might find it easier to be quiet.
Build up your length of silence over time, and this is your journey towards mindfulness and meditation.
I challenge you - it won't be easy, but I do guarantee that it will come in very useful on those days when you want the whole world to shut up and leave you alone!