Shhhhh. Rest.

silence

Silence. The sound of silence. How often do we intentionally choose to be silent? For a minute? Half an hour? An hour? A day?

And what happens when we make that choice? Or what would happen if we did make that choice?

I was fortunate this last week to spend some of a day in silence. It was on a retreat with others. Somehow being intentional about it helps: going somewhere specific; being with others who also want to cultivate being in silence (strange as that may sound!).

What did happened for me in the silence? It felt as if  ‘raggedy’ bits of me knitted back together. Perhaps it is just being human but in the rough and tough of living, we get bashed: cracked and chipped most often; smashed to pieces exceptionally.

I guess the ‘raggedy’ bits knitting back is an image of healing. Wholeness restored – or in the process of being restored at least!

Why might this happen in silence? Intentionally being silent may be a restorative in itself, i.e. we are choosing to care for ourselves by giving ourselves a break from communicating or engaging with all around us. There is rest in this choice. Being silent may also give space or permission to the healer – the creator of all – to restore us. There is the divine in this choice.

Your circumstances may make it impossible to step out of the everyday for anything approaching a day. But try choosing to spend a short time in silence. You might choose a specific chair in your house or a bench in the park to sit it – or you might choose to walk a specific route while you practice being silent.

Ah yes, it is a practice – which means we won’t be perfect at being silent. We can make a choice to practice loving kindness towards ourselves – treating ourselves as our best friend would want us to treat ourselves – while we practice being silent. Patience with yourself is a virtue indeed!

If you receive these posts by weekly email, you will have missed the last one – not a software problem as such but a software user problem! Here it is if you would like to read it now.

This is Mindful Monday on 21 January 2019. 

Do you live in Cheltenham or nearby? Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness on the theme of ‘growing in peace’ on Tuesday 5 February 7.30-9 pm, booking your place in advance by emailing hello@essencecheltenham.org.

Mindful in the everyday

white ceramic teacup on saucer with brown liquid

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

We can be tempted to make mindfulness something for special occasions. I went on a ‘retreat day’ recently – one of those special occasions – when it was good to spend some time exploring silence, that rare commodity in the everyday. However, it also reminded me that we practice awareness most of the time in our everyday activities, the 99.9% of our lives, and generally not in silence!

It is challenging to give a task our full attention. And yet when we do, we can be surprised with the richness of the experience. For example instead of absentmindedly drinking our cup of tea, eating our dinner, talking to a friend, driving to an appointment, or cleaning the bathroom, we can give it our full attention.

What does this look like? Here are three suggestions. It means not hurrying. It means making this task our focus, the most important thing to be doing right now. It means paying attention to the information our senses are giving us.

When we practice awareness, the task we are doing is meditation. And if we cannot do everyday tasks mindfully, we probably cannot meditate while sitting in silence. So the everyday and what for me are the ‘special occasions’ are connected. Practicing awareness in the everyday prepares us for moving deeper in our awareness sometimes through more disciplined practice. But for now, it’s time to clean the bathroom!

This is Mindful Monday on 8 October 2018.

Join Sara Shailer and Julie Hill for an evening of mindfulness at the Oasis in Cheltenham on Tuesday 16 October, 7.30-9 pm. The theme is ‘growing in love’. To book your place, contact Sara on hello@essencecheltenham.org, ideally by Friday 12 October but you can book even on the day. There is no charge. If you are able make a donation towards room hire.