When you take time every day to be alone with yourself, away from phones, the Internet and noise, you'll be giving yourself a loving gift. Get selfish about making time. Insist on it, and don’t allow anyone, especially yourself, to talk you out of it.
Here are what I consider six benefits of quiet time.
1. Lighten Up
When we get stressed out, it’s so easy to lose touch with that sweet calm that's always there for us to tap into. In a relaxed state, your mind quiets down and then you can connect with a deeper sense of purpose and good. Meditation and medication are derived from the Latin word medicus, to care or to cure. So a time of quiet calmness is the most effective remedy for a busy and overworked person.
Anytime you feel stress rising, heart closing, mind going into overwhelm, just bring your focus to your breathing and quietly repeat with each in-and-out breath: Breathing in, I am here; breathing out, All is well. If you have a set of words that help you relax and can be in time with your inhalations and exhalations by all means use those words. These are the words I use right now. They may change down the road.
2. Let Go
Stillness is always there between the thoughts, behind the drama, underneath the noise. What keeps us from experiencing our natural state of peace is the habitual and chatter of what some call the monkey mind. Meditation enables us to settle down and see clearly. Just 15 minutes a day, getting into a comfortable position and focusing on some steady, boring sound and your breathing will produce remarkable results in your life.
In that 15 minutes, take a moment to appreciate the chair you’re sitting on. Consider how the chair was made: the wood, cotton, wool, or other fibers, the trees and plants that were used, the earth that grew the trees, the sun and rain, the animals that maybe gave their lives, the people who prepared the materials, the factory where the chair was made, the designer and carpenter and seamstress, the shop that sold it—all this just so you could be sitting here, now. Then extend that deep appreciation to everything and everyone in your life.
4. Live with Kindness
No one deserves your kindness and love more than you do. Every time you see or feel suffering, every time you make a mistake or say something stupid and are just about to put yourself down, or be unkind to a family member or stranger, every time you think of someone you’re having a hard time with, every time you encounter the confusion and difficulty of being human, every time you see someone else struggling, upset, or irritated, you can stop, get quiet and bring loving kindness and compassion into that moment. Breathing gently, silently repeat: I am well, I am happy, I am filled with loving kindness.
5. Dissolve Anger and Fear
It's not fun to be angry or scared, but when we are, it helps to acknowledge those emotions by knowing it's okay. Acknowledging isn't dwelling. Do to yourself the same thing you would do to your young child; get love into the equation as soon as possible. Say something like: "It's okay, you're alright." "It'll be alright." "Breathe." Right beneath any negative emotion lies a quiet stillness just waiting for you. That's probably where the cliche "Count to ten came from."
6. Awaken Forgiveness
Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. As you sit in quiet solitude and watch your thoughts and feelings moving through you, observe that who you are now is not who you were just a moment ago, let alone a day, a week, or a month ago. When you get in the habit of experiencing your connection with God, you begin to see how that connection stops suffering. My acronym for forgive is: Focusing On Recognizing Good In Virtually Everyone.
REMEMBER: Schedule Time for Solitude
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to give yourself ample time for solitude. In fact the more busy and chaotic your life is, the more crucial it is for you to take that time. We can tend to care more about re-charging our laptops and smart phones than we do about re-charging our own incredible minds.
Morning is the best time to meditate. When you first wake up, your mind is groggy and you have a good shot at keeping it at bay, plus you're in a relaxed position and you're warm and cozy.
Pam Young, who lives in Woodland, Wash., is an author and lifestyle/home management speaker, columnist, and blogger.