Tag Archives: silence

The Quiet Experiment

iGnite - Silence is a SuperpowerPoint to Ponder:

How mindful are you in your everyday errands and activities?  Are you comfortable with silence?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

I love a good experiment.  For example, I love finding new driving routes, trying new classes, workouts and locations (in iGnite of course), running a different direction around Lady Bird Lake, driving for a week with no music or talk radio, and even testing new “fad diets” just to mix it up and confuse my body, mind and spirit and see the results.  Here me out, I most certainly love order and prefer for things stay the same, though I really enjoy experimenting and stretching myself because there is always something new to be learned.

I may have used the term “fad diet” incorrectly because I’m not a fan of dieting, however I enjoy experimenting with food trends, assuming they are healthy.  I have tried being a vegetarian, vegan and eating all raw.  My goal was to learn how my body would respond and if it was something that was sustainable and worked for me.  What I learned was that none of them work for me, but I did gain great knowledge and tips from them all.

As for running, there was a time when I never ran with headphones around Lady Bird Lake because I loved hearing my breath, the pounding of the trail beneath my feet and most sacred, the sounds of the trail.  Then, one day I decided to listen to music for the extra motivation.  I did like it and the music was encouraging, but the experience was completely different.  I couldn’t hear my breath or the crunching of the trail which is what I had enjoyed for so long. Most importantly, every time I ran I received clarity on a life issue.  It was meditative and mother nature always spoke to me. Furthermore, one time while running with headphones, the headphones died at the half way point and because I was relying on the music to get me through the run, finishing the run was an absolute nightmare.  From that point on I vowed that I’d never wear headphones again because it was clear that a dependence had been established.  The same holds true when running or walking in a different direction on the trail.  Even though it is the same distance and same trail, when I start in the opposite direction or at a different location, my body, mind and spirit can’t go into autopilot and the experience is altogether unique.

As I write this journal I am sitting on my father’s back porch in total silence.  It’s just me, the cool breeze (crazy!!!), the singing birds and the rustling leaves.  I can think clearly, feel my body and hear my spirit.  It’s serene, perfect and so different than most days that come with the noise from children, television, traffic, the radio, and life in general.  And, because just two weeks ago in the journal Music: The Multipurpose Medicine, I recommended turning on some tunes and letting music feed your soul, you may think I am crazy for recommending that this week we turn off the music, the television and controllable noise and do life without it, just to see what happens.  Maybe for you this means turning off your television, radio,or  simply not talking when you don’t need or have to.  It’s simply an experiment to see what all we can hear.

With each passing day I realize that with most things in life there is no right or wrong way.   We are consistently evolving which includes growth, which also means that what works one day may not work the next. This is why we must remain open to change, trying new things, and experimenting, specifically as we did in iGnite many years ago. During one week we experimented with not talking to one another during the workouts. We saved talking until the end, where we shared our interesting realizations.  This of course seemed counter-culture because iGnite is all about being in and with community.  But in the spirit of discovering what we can learn, what we can see and most importantly what we can hear when we are quiet, I am suggesting that we try it again, as the results were exceptional!

Action Item:

In your workouts this week (and in other situations where you’d usually find a way to distract yourself with media or conversation), challenge yourself to be silent and focus instead on being entirely mindful of your surroundings, what you are doing and how your body is feeling. Observe what a difference it makes at the end of your workout! 

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Silence Has Substance

Rest

I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.
-Chaim Potok, The Chosen

Here we go! The extra high speed season has arrived. Very soon we’ll have parties to attend, gifts to buy and meals to prepare. I must admit I do love this time of year, as Christmas is a time of celebration that fortunately revolves around friends and family. Unfortunately, I have yet to discover how to avoid the chaotic and frantic mode that I take full responsibility of putting myself in. In other words, I epitomize the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result), as I have great intentions of living a harmonious holiday, yet year after year I find myself repeating the same behaviors but expecting a different result (ugh!). It is for this reason that I continuously seek inspiration and wisdom about ways to remain centered without the unnecessary and unwanted stress of overspending and overdoing, which is contrary to the season I believe in.

Thankfully, this morning while attending a Sunday School class I received the inspiration I was looking for. It is not a new or foreign concept to you or I, but the timing and delivery was spot on. I’ll put it in one delicious word: Savasana, which is great on a daily basis but is dire during the holidays when emotions naturally run high.

I know what you are thinking —  Sure Neissa, a daily Savasana sounds great (in theory), but the reality is that I don’t have time for it and if I do enjoy a daily Savasana, I’ll fall asleep!  Yes, in theory, a daily and reflective Savasana would be ideal, however just lying down in “dead body pose” is not the goal. The objective is to find time each day for your body to be inactive and your mind to be silent so that your spirit can be rejuvenated from the inside out.

So, what does this mean? It means sitting on your front porch, lying in a bubble bath, sitting on a park bench, or hiding in a closet (from your kids). It can be anywhere for any amount of time, just as long as it’s in total silence and you can catch your breath and get re-centered. And, unlike what we are trained to think, inactivity can be productive and silence definitely has substance –especially during the fast-paced holiday season.

Finally, I understand that the idea of enjoying a still and silent moment each day sounds simple, however it goes against everything our culture tells us. Therefore, if one minute of inactivity and silence feels  uncomfortable, know you are in good company. Building endurance for silence and stillness is no different than building endurance for activity. It can be painful and take time, but is well worth it!

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Point To Ponder:
Do you ever give yourself a still and silent moment?

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Action Item:
Spend time every day to be still and silent.

To your health,

Neissa

About Neissa

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