Everything is conspiring to pull you away from the present -- now more than ever -- with all the noise and constant communication. We are bombarded by too much information. -- Kim Cattrall
Imagine silence. Pure silence. And not for one day but for 10 days. No telephone, no email, no conversations with other people, not even the sound of your own voice. I do it every year -- I retreat myself from all the noise around me. Ten days without voices, except for the ones in my own head. No, not an easy task, but it is the best opportunity to find rest and energy for the year ahead.
Kim Cattrall is right. The constant noise, communication and information pulls us away from the present moment. At the same time, it puts a constant pressure on our minds to be active. Activity can be good, but it all depends on what the "activity" is directed toward.
To see the effect of the constant stream of information to our brain watch, "What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains."
To actively reflect on what gives us energy for example, will give us energy and determination. And to actively reflect on the effect of the constant stream of information that we our feeding our brains with is a first step to building inner peace. Every time I retreat myself from the noise I give myself the opportunity to do these reflections. But the silence gives me more -- it shows me that the noise I normally surround myself with is actually a way to distract myself from my "inner noise" feelings, like restlessness or worry, or the desire to relax while thinking about all the things that could make me relaxed... in the future.
And that's exactly what Kim is so wisely referring to when she says, "Everything is conspiring to pull you away from the present." Energy and peace come from actively "seeing" what is happening in the present, not from escaping from it. In the present, we might feel restless, worried, angry or scared or we might constantly look for something in the future. But peace doesn't lie in the future, nor in escaping from it. It lies in dealing with what is in the present -- in getting rid of our inner noise!
How to get rid of the noise?
You probably know -- somewhere -- what causes the biggest "noise" and distraction in your life. Maybe it is your phone, eating or watching television. Whatever it is, say to yourself that you will try to just mentally make a note once you are "using" it. I like to say it twice to myself. For example, "Escaping, escaping," "Distraction, distraction," or "Noise, noise." You will probably (like me) forget to do it in the beginning, but you will also notice that you will remember it at a certain point and that is exactly what we are aiming for. So, don't get upset once you have noticed you forgot, be happy that you remembered it after all!
2. What gives you energy?
Try to make a list of things that give you energy. Some of the things that give me energy are: walking, consciously enjoying the kids having a good time, sleeping when I feel tired, seeing my husband smile, being silent and seeing my thoughts or emotions come and go, having a positive conversation with my husband or my friends, sending kind wishes to people I love, writing and eating healthy.
3. Give yourself a silent break
This one is challenging, so start really, really small. I love to take 15 minutes to just sit and watch the stream of thoughts in my head coming and going. I also love to go for a walk without taking my phone. This sounds oh so simple but I always find it interesting how often during a walk I want to pick up my phone to either check emails, call someone, Google something or even just to check the time. Distraction!
4. Give yourself an even better break
Two weeks ago, we took the children for our yearly summer holiday. A week filled with swimming, barbecues and just doing nothing. I felt so tired afterwards that I needed another holiday. When I checked with one of the kids, she said the same. Giving yourself a "real" break might therefore be something like: eating healthy, going for long walks, focussing on what brings you joy and energy and just going to bed when you are tired. Try to give yourself that break. Spend an active day in nature, eat healthy and explore the benefits of doing so with the kids. Have them consciously look at the beauty of nature Make it a game. Ask them how many colors of green they see, how many different browns, or how many different sounds they hear. Let them collect wood or let them spot animals. Make it a game to be silent as long as they can (yes, that works!) and ask them afterwards what their first thought was.
Last but not least. It's always good to remind yourself that it isn't activity in itself that is bad, but it all depends on what the activity is directed toward! I'm preparing myself for my big break this year and I hope you will give yourself one too! Get rid of the noise and destress, relax and regain your energy!
"The Big Conversation: Kim Catrrall & Janet Street-Porter"; Phycologies Magazine, U.K. edition; July 2013; pg 14.
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