When I work down at the Disneyland Resort, I have nearly 90 mile round trip commute. I usually fill the time with listening to podcasts or making phone calls.
I had an insight a few months ago where I realized I wasn’t leaving room for silence in my life.
So I decided to test myself and practice being silent for my roundtrip to work for 10 days.
Why on earth would you do that?
For me there ended up being three reasons to practice it.
First it helps to cool the engine of my mind and give it a rest. This is a very noisy world we live in, chalk full of distractions, thousands of things trying to grab our attention every day, whether it’s articles, videos or even advertisements while driving along the freeway.
When I add this to the other things I’m dealing with in life (making a living, having a relationship with my wife and sons, career transition, keeping healthy physically and mentally), I’m riding in the red for a lot of my life. Being silent gives me a chance to take the foot of the gas and let the engine of my mind rest.
Once I’ve done that, it leads to the second benefit I found in silence: it allows God in and allows reflection for your life’s purpose.
Moments of silence are wonderful places for “left field” thinking to arise (that thought that pops up in your head from absolutely “nowhere”) The Talmud says “Every blade of grass has an angel that bends over it and whispers “Grow, grow!” William Blake said “Eternity is in love with the creations of time”
Steven Pressfield in “The War of Art” expands on Blake’s statement theorizing that the timeless is trying to communicate with the timebound. The Eternal is whispering in our ear to nudge us forward with our creation. How can we hear the Eternal, if we are not still to listen?
The silence serves as the breathing in, that follows all the breathing out I’ve been doing with my noisy life. It refreshes and gives clarity. It re-focuses what I’m supposed to be doing.
Finally, the third benefit I found in being silent: it gives me practice for the moments when nothing will be happening.
In our efforts to make forward motion, we’ll hit a patch where there is just stillness. We’ve done everything we can and we simply have to wait. We can’t let those moments cause us to spin into frustration or depression.
I realized that this benefit of silence was working when I went to my son Duncan’s track meet. He was only participating in two events with long breaks in-between. Overall it was a long meet, but I was surprised to look down at my watch and see that nearly four hours had passed.
It wasn’t as taxing as I thought it would be. I had not filled the time with smartphone business. I just chose to be present and take in all the other events that were happening. I found myself pleasantly refreshed when we left. I don’t think that would have been the case a few months ago. The old version of myself would have been very fidgety, pacing all around and keeping his face in his phone.
By no means was it easy practicing silence for 10 days. There were definitely some moments where I felt like I was crawling out of my skin, and there were moments, when past failures deciding to camp out in my mind during my silence. Fortunately I was able to talk to my wife and friends about those moments and work through the feelings I experienced in the rough patches.
In the end I’ve found it quite rewarding, so much so, that I have decided to incorporate silence into 15 min of my drive every day each way so I can filter out the noise and make room for the good in my life.
Challenge yourself and see if you can incorporate a little more silence into your life. You just might leave space for goodness and inspiration to enter in.