When our BT engineer telephoned to change the date of our new superfast broadband connection from Tuesday to Wednesday, I didn’t really give it a second thought! Wednesday was the day our electric was to be cut off (for the whole day), and the new owner of my car was coming round to pay and sign all the paperwork. What were the chances of it all happening at the same time? Extremely high apparently! Chaos ensued with me trying to deal with the BT engineer and the person buying my car at the same time (they both arrived within 5 seconds of each other), and finding out what time the electric was due to be shut off and put back on. The BT man wanted information and the new car owner needed my attention to fill in relevant forms and receipts. So when the electric went off and everybody was sorted I suddenly had a double dose of ‘quietness’, internally and externally. My mind went quiet, enjoying the break after an over-dose of thinking, and my house ceased to ‘hum’. Initially the silence was rather strange, my thoughts travelling to what electrical noises I normally hear, and yet paradoxically do not hear. My thoughts then moved to how I was going to make the most of this quiet, and enjoy the silence.
I then recalled a series of childhood memories of my parents taking the family to a small cottage in Wales (usually arround this time of year too), that had no electricity or even a fixed toilet (think chemical toilet and digging holes in the garden), I used to love the quiet of the cottage, the isolated setting and surrounding area where we would walk the Welsh mountains daily. Why this memory now? This is where I first experienced an environment without ‘hum’ and it was my minds attempt at making sense of the new situation.
So, I was ready to sit back and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet when I started feeling rather uneasy, ‘at a loss’ as the expression goes. Now for those of you that know me, you will be aware that I process information primarily at a body level (kinaesthetic), this meant of course that in order to be peaceful, I needed to feel peaceful! I realised that I was experiencing a sense of loss (what to do without my elecrical comforts?), excitement of having new superfast broaband to play with, and an anticipation of finishing off the engineers job (setting up the computers to work on our new connection).
At this point I made a choice to get some jobs done that would best utilise my time and expend some of my energy, rather than consciously forcing myself to relax (which of course is rather paradoxical for a kinaesthetic processor). This choice worked very well, I was able to enjoy the peace via a ‘active meditation’ or ‘grounding’ (Ken Mellor) by being aware of all states (loss, excitement, anticipation, and peacefulness) whilst being physically active in the hear and now. During this time the electric had been switched back on, however the surge of electricity had tripped the ‘trip-switch’ so ironically I carried on for over an hour oblivious to the fact we had our electicity back!
Since Wednesday I have had time to reflect and ask myself what did I learn about myself? I realise that I do not always take the time to notice my needs, or to be aware of the here-and-now, and like most people I can become caught up in a form of complacency and put my mind on autopilot. I have learned that I could manage my time a little more effectively, especially around technology where I find it easy to lose myself in non-productive ‘surfing’ on the internet, by taking some quiet time out to read, study, listen to music, and to relax and meditate more.
I used the theme of ‘quiet’ on facebook this week (one post is outlined in the next paragraph), and also integrated the theme into Thursday nights relaxation/meditation group, where we spent the first 15 minutes in complete silence, internally instructing ourselves to achieve a ‘quiet mind’. This enabled us to find out what happens when there is ‘nothing’ going on, informing us about our own process and/or blocking techniques we may use to subconsiously obey various beliefs and values around doing nothing, relaxing, or switching off.
The theme of quiet had also got me thinking about all the different types of ‘quiet’ we can experience; experienceing a quiet environment, quietening our minds, relaxing and letting go of stress within the body (which can manifest as a kind of physical noise), slowing ourselves down and watching the world around us travel at a faster pace, sleeping, and meditating (I am sure there are lots more!), Our original family dynamic would have played a large part in formulating values and beliefs around stillness, relaxation and being quiet (did your parents ever ‘shhhh’ you, or perhaps you heard the phrase ‘children should be seen and not heard’), certainly many people are on the go all day, right up to when they collapse into bed, who’s belief systems do not allow for stopping and experiencing nothing for a while! The way we process information; our prefered way of being in, and understanding the world, would also have an effect on how we give ourselves peace and quiet, if at all!. As a kinaesthetic processor I need to ‘feel’ okay internally before I can sit and relax properly, as was highlighted on Wednesday, the anticipation I felt in my body meant that I had energy to burn and I would have blocked any attempts to relax, but I didn’t always know this and I have learned over the years to tune into my body in order to know what is right for me at any one time. Auditory processors finely tune their hearing, so much so that often they need quieter environments to concentrate or relax in. Visual processors often need to shut off their vision by closing their eyes in order to get some internal peace. So we can all find ways of experiencing quiet in our lives by knowing ourselves well, tuning in to what works best for us, understanding how our beliefs and values either help or hinder us, trust that we can make any necessary changes, and experience the quietness of our choice to become heathier and happier in our lives.
Here are some snippets for achieving your own slice of peace and quiet …
- Become aware of one of your senses (touch, sight, smell, taste, sound) and couple this with an awareness of what is going on inside your body (your breath, blood, bones, muscles, energy, tension, relaxation, heat, cold, nothingness etc). Do these two at the same time, and you will become aware of your here-and-now. You could then go through all of your senses once by one in turn, for example, you could listen to the bird song during breakfast, also noticing your internal experience, then move your awareness to the taste of your breakfast, again noticing your internal experience simultaniously, then move your awareness to the smell of your breakfast (plus internal), gently move your awareness to what you can see (plus internal), then finally move your awareness to your external physical body sensations, again experiencing your internal state simultaniously.
- Hear yourself say ‘STOP’ inside your mind, then focus on your environment and use your senses to notice what you haven’t noticed yet/before. What can you see? What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you taste? What can you physically sense?
- Engage fully in the activity that you are doing, even if its housework. Really become aware of every move that you make with your body, also become aware of your behaviour in the activity.
- Get out of the house, or work enviornment. Go for a walk, sit and notice your natural environment (I’m sure you can find something natural somewhere). Breath in some outside air.
- Put some music on (headphones might be helpful to allow your neighbours to also get their slice of peace and quiet), really immerse yourself in the sound, feel it in your body (I highly recommend dancing or singing without worrying about what you look or sound like), or visualise the music in your unique way.
- Relax your body, start at your toes and slowly move up your body, internally requesting each muscle to relax, let go, release, and soften. Also use each exhale to relax the body further.
- Run yourself a nice bath, full of your favourite scented bubbles. You can get all the other senses in here too; light candles, have a drink or a snack nearby, listen to music, feel the soothing warmth of the water.
- Find an activity that you enjoy doing, become active and nourish your body with essential ‘feel-good’ chemicals following exercise (I am sure you can think of some exciting ways to exercise your body). You can make your exercise time yours, a little slice of personal space and time looking after your physical health.
- Get a body massage, not only will this help relax muscles, but it will give you a good dose of ‘physical contact’, something that is essential to our physical and mental well being.
- Learn to meditate, or perhaps attend a meditation class (we do these!).
I invite you to share your own ways of getting peace and quiet, and your stories and experiences using the box below. As always your feedback, questions and comments are always welcome too.