Quiet time: Enjoying the silence

This morning I needed a quiet space.

I was sick of the movies in my Amazon Video list, sick of the movies in my DVD collection, sick of the gospel and R&B music on my Spotify playlist and sick of the same in my CD collection. Not that I won’t ever watch or listen to the collections  again; just that on this morning, I needed quiet.

I brewed a pot of coffee and picked up “The Untethered Soul” and realized just how much I needed quiet. The bookmark was wedged between pages in Chapter four, but as I thumbed through Chapters one through three, none of the information on those pages struck a chord in my memory. But I know I read them because I like to highlight certain passages with stars – and there were quite a few stars.  So, I removed the bookmark, put it aside and went back to Chapter one.

My life is usually all about multi-tasking so that I can maximize my awake times to do everything that I want to do. When I go to work, I carry my sketchbook, computer, and perhaps a current crochet project so that when my patient is sleeping, I fill my time with constructive activities. I see nothing wrong with that yet. It has helped me to complete many a project instead of complaining that I just don’t have the time. However, my multi-tasking has segued into problems with my need to fall asleep to a movie I’ve seen countless times;  listen to gospel or rock music while I’m writing; or play a jazz or gospel cd while I’m reading. I’ve discovered that either I’m not getting enough sleep, not focusing well enough on my writing, or I’m not retaining information I’ve read.

But I’m not just worried about writing a more organized article, or retaining the information that I’m reading. I’m concerned that I’m over stimulating my brain by always keeping it on autopilot and never allowing it some silence to regroup.

I know that there are people that gain strength by talking, by constantly sharing their thoughts and feelings, by exchanging information with others. They’re energized by those constant interactions. I’m not a person who is energized by talking constantly – not in person or on the telephone. Too much drains me and I feel unsettled. But I never thought that constantly listening to music or movies would drain me. After all, I’m not talking to anyone, just listening to whatever’s playing on the stereo or television. So it made sense, I thought, to use music or movies as background noise when I’m reading, writing, falling asleep or practicing yoga; not meant for me to pay attention to; just there to keep my space from being too quiet.

But I DO pay attention to it. I focus on what’s playing, whether I like what’s playing, thoughts of getting up and changing it if I don’t like it – all of which distract me from what I’m reading or writing, and how much sleep I get. And what’s worse, while music does having an amazing ability to calm me – particularly gospel music – I notice that I  feel much more settled when I allow my mind some quiet time to rest, regroup and focus.

So today when I plugged up my phone across the room, left the television and stereo off and just read my book, I felt a difference.  I sat on my futon in my quiet apartment and my, thankfully, quiet apartment building and  felt the moment when all the thoughts racing around in my head, vying for attention, finally went somewhere and sat down. I felt my mind focus and become calm. I actually absorbed what I was reading today.

I’m not sure yet whether I need one day a week of absolute quiet, or whether my soul might benefit from one to two hours a day. But I’m not going to overthink it.

I’ll listen to my body and wait for instructions.


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