I don’t know about you, but I use to be SO uncomfortable with silence. When I got in the car, I immediately had to turn on some music or start a podcast. When I got home, I’d flick on the TV or call someone to chat with me while I did my after-work chores. Whatever the case, I had to fill all silent space with entertainment, information – any type of noise. I remember being curious about what it might look like to “quiet down”, and even taking some courses on mindfulness thinking that may help my transition. Yet when I attempted to meditate, I felt like I was crawling out of my skin!
In this digital age, many of us having a hard time being still or doing nothing. Go to any waiting room, playground, or bustling city street and you will find that most people are looking down at their phones.
So why do we need to practice being still, slowing down, and doing nothing?
The answer: To locate your internal source of power….and within that internal power? That’s where you find yourself.
When we are inundated with so much information while focusing solely on our to-do lists, we are unable to tune into our own inner guidance, our intuition, our soul. We don’t give our minds a break or our ears a rest – period. Instead of getting to know ourselves on a deeper level, we choose to listen to other people’s thoughts on the radio, on our favorite podcasts, on the news, etc. This is where mindfulness and meditation come into play.
Defined, mindfulness is the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. It’s your ability to be present and aware of everything around you, while not becoming overwhelmed or overly reactive. We all have a natural ability to be mindful, but mindfulness is much like a muscle in that it gets stronger the more you work with it.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation has changed me. I feel calmer, less stressed, and able to tune into my intuition. However, let me be clear: it took me a long time to get here! I use to be so anxious during my early meditation sessions and I’d always end them early as a result. Despite my good intentions, I still turned on a podcast or called someone the moment I got in my car. But I kept at it and slowly, I made space for the silence. And I’m so grateful I did.
You can incorporate mindfulness and/or meditation into your life in a variety of ways, or combine the two with mindfulness meditation. The goal is not to turn off your thoughts or emotions, it’s to recognize them without judging yourself or sending yourself into a tailspin because of them. However you choose to practice mindfulness and meditation, keeping it consistent will greatly help your results.
One way to help with consistency is choosing a dedicated space for your mindfulness practice. Maybe it’s somewhere in nature or a place near your home. Practice being still and doing nothing. Expect and allow some restlessness or anxiety to emerge. This is actually quite normal and is a great indicator you’re doing it correctly! Over time I have found that the brain usually calms down after the first 5 minutes of stillness and drops into a meditative state.
You can also practice mindfulness on a walk around your neighborhood or during a hike in nature. All you have to do is commit to being fully present on your walk without any sort of commentary, judgment, or feedback. As you walk, allow yourself to be fully immersed in nature. Re-direct any thoughts about your family or your to-do list back to the walk, to each footstep, each tree, each moment. In that space, you will find serenity. You will tune into a side of yourself that has been buried. You will find you.
If you need any support in creating and sustaining this sacred space, I invite you to reach out to me and we can craft it together.
Wishing you so much peace and love this week,
Melanie Shmois, MSSA, LISW-S, is a licensed social worker, holding a Master’s Degree (MSSA) from Case Western Reserve University and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Spanish. After spending 2 decades helping others achieve their mental and personal goals, Melanie worked with Master Coach Instructor, Brooke Castillo, and became a certified Life and Weight Coach through the Life Coach School.