Silent moments, where we are mindful and deeply connected to our experiences, are always available to us. These moments exist in the pause between each in-breath and out-breath—when we close our eyes and let go of thought, and when we sit in wonder beneath a spectacular starscape.
Yet, living in societies that are so absorbed with the noise of activity, as many of us do, experiences of such quiet moments can be few and far between. And when we are disconnected from silence, it can feel impossible to mend that break. But with a bit of intention, and with a conscious effort to connect to ourselves as human beings rather than as humans who are always doing, we can make space for silent moments to arise.
Here are a few ways to reconnect with the silence in daily life.
1. First thing:
Morning hours can be an easeful time to awaken a quality of inner stillness. Take anywhere from a few moments to an hour (whatever your schedule allows) to go within.
This inner work could consist of simply observing how you feel and setting an intention for the day. It could also mean practicing asana or meditation, or writing in your journal. Whatever your ritual, starting the morning with more awareness can have a grounding effect that will stay with you throughout your day.
2. Before meals:
We are all quite aware of the implications of what we eat, but how we eat is arguably just as important. A meal eaten with awareness can allow for better assimilation of nutrients, not to mention a greater enjoyment of flavors.
Begin each meal by closing your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, inviting in gratitude for the bounty of Mother Nature, and appreciating the time you have to nourish yourself. You can also try a short prayer. I grew up chanting this food prayer from the Upanishads before meals, and I now say it silently to myself before I eat:
Let us be together,
let us eat together,
let us be vital together;
let us be radiating truth,
radiating the light of life;
never shall we denounce anyone,
never entertain negativity.
You could use this prayer or another one. Or you could choose a passage, phrase, or mantra that resonates with you.
3. Practice mindful awareness:
Whether you spend the majority of your day in a work environment, outdoors, or somewhere in between, pay attention to your surroundings. Even in the unlikeliest of places there are reminders of the magic of nature. Just the other day I found myself enchanted by the shapes of moving light on my bathroom wall. This practice of observation can bring more presence into the moments that make up your day.
The more we observe the outer world, the more we may be able to see ourselves as part of that world and to recognize an underlying union. We might find that our breath shares a rhythm with the pedaling of a passing cyclist, or we may notice a wild dandelion’s resilience and feel our own resolve thereby strengthened. Access this resonance by observing the roots of presence shared between you and your environment, whatever those may be.
4. Practice gratitude:
This is a practice many of us are familiar with, but perhaps don’t employ as often as we could. Along with observation, opening space for gratitude throughout the day creates opportunities for deeper presence, which brings the fullness of silence.
Gratitude can help us embrace everything from the smallest of happy coincidences to the greatest of cosmic alignments, along with the moments that challenge us. All experiences can serve as a source of connection to the silence that underlies the noise of daily activity. When we pause to reconnect with gratitude, we honor the role that each experience plays in our understanding of the fullness of life.
Breath is the source of life. Becoming conscious of the breath can calm the mind, energize the body, and further connect us to our life source. Observe your natural breath and infuse it with awareness. This simple practice is an ever-available tool we can use to access inner stillness.
6. Before bed:
Close the day just as you began it—with contemplation. Listen to relaxing music, journal, practice restorative asana by candlelight, and recount moments of gratitude. Reflecting on the day’s activities helps us to let go of what has occurred so that we can become more present and return to the silence of being.
Moments of stillness create richness in activity by allowing us to be fully present in the here and now. A balance of inner and outer, cosmic and telluric, yin and yang, creates greater fulfillment in the human experience.
Tend to this inner silence as you would to a close friendship, and it will take care of you as you move through each day.
You are a lighthouse for silence. Turn on the light, and it will find you.