Listening to the Silence

Meditation is said to enhance both creativity and productivity. However, meditation requires discipline and practice; without a coach and some training, formal meditation may be beyond the reach of some. What is often overlooked is that there are various forms of meditation. For example, some time ago I ran across a variation that was previously unknown to me. It was in one of those “10 Habits of Highly Successful People” lists (which I wasn’t able to find it again for reference for this post); this list said essentially that successful people take some time every day for quiet, or introspection, or meditation or devotion, time to just be. What I will call “personal quiet time.”

While formal meditation may be, in many ways, superior to a personal quiet time, there is much to recommend the latter; while personal quiet time does take discipline, it does not take the training that meditation does. And the goals are the same: taking some time to free the mind, preferably every day. And while freeing the mind every day may or may not help make one successful, it can certainly be beneficial in the same ways as meditation.

Something about the way this personal quiet time idea was presented struck me. Perhaps because I have an interest in mindfulness, I decided to give it a try. The space I found for this experiment has a comfortable place to sit, a large window that faces east, several pieces of art that I have seen hundreds of time but that still invite contemplation.

Every morning I set aside a time to just be. Well, actually, it has a bit more structure than that. Every morning I sit in the same place and read one chapter (some would say verse) of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. (Probably many other books would do as well.) Then I just let my mind wander; there is no effort to make the mind empty as there is in formal meditation. Sometimes it wanders over what I have just read. Sometimes it wanders over one or more art pieces or out into the yard beyond the window. Other times it wanders to the future and puts the events of the day in order, or it wanders to dreams, or it just wanders. And sometimes solutions for problems or ideas for new projects or new approaches to old projects appear—out of the air.

Early on, I learned that music did not enhance the experience; rather, it detracted from it. So now there are no sounds other than those made by the house. I’ve come to think of it as listening to the silence.

How long does this go on? The time it takes to unhurriedly drink a cup of tea (coffee would work too of course); it varies from day to day (usually between 15 and 30 minutes). And so I sit, and listen to the silence, and let my mind drift.

It’s very like meditation in that it seems to generate an altered state of consciousness, somewhat akin to a very light trance. And when it’s over I come back to myself and the “real” part of the day begins.

In just over 30 days it has become an important part of my day. So important that I will get up earlier, if necessary, in order to have that time before I have to be somewhere doing something—and I am not a person who takes getting up earlier lightly.

The benefit is worth it. My creativity and productivity have improved dramatically in the short time I have been practicing listening to the silence. Whether it would do the same for you I have no idea. I do, however, recommend that you find some way to unplug and take a few moments for yourself every day—to just be. You may see a difference in your work, and maybe in your life.

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Date: Sunday, 18. September 2016 23:55
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Creativity, Productivity

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