Is Silence a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?
What do you do each morning to start your day the right way? What’s your morning routine? I used to laugh at the idea of a morning routine. First, I didn't like mornings and second I didn't like anything routine. To me that was code for boring. So it was a tall order to sell me on the idea of creating a healthy morning routine for myself.
My "morning routine" used to be rolling out of bed a couple minutes ahead of my kids, donning my grey bath robe (Bill calls me Gandalf when I wear it) and trying to tame my bedhead a bit before going downstairs so I didn't scare my children. But when I started my day that way, I felt like I was running behind all day long. So while my recent earlier mornings are a result of needing more time to plan my days and more time to just wake up in the morning, they are also about starting my day with gratitude and finding joy in simple pleasures, like a few minutes of silence.
Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home dad, a single career woman, a college student with a heavy course load or a retired grandfather with newfound time to work on your favorite charity…we all need to figure out how to take some time to care for ourselves so we can better care for those around us. And if we don't do that first thing in the morning, it often gets sacrificed to the tyranny of the urgent. Just as we settle in for a few minutes of quiet afternoon reflection we hear:
"Mom!...Mom, where are you?"
Sigh. "I'm in the kitchen."
"Oh good, I need black shoes for my concert tonight!"
"Wear the ones we bought you last time."
"Mom, that was three years ago and they're four sizes too small."
Sigh. Target here I come.
In my last post I talked about the Miracle Morning SAVERS. The first S in SAVERS stands for Silence. The idea being that we have so much coming at us at all times, actually taking time to sit in silence is a novelty for most of us.
I think when I was young, I pictured silence to be linked to punishment. Like in school, if the class were getting too loud and rowdy, sometimes the teacher would stop class and just have us sit in complete silence for a period of time. I remember it feeling torturous. (In reality, it was probably the teacher just giving herself a few minutes of peace to try and keep her sanity!)
But I also remember when friends or family members would give “the silent treatment.” If they were particularly upset over something, they would stop talking to me for a period of time. That also felt like torture. (I was never able to retaliate in kind. I find it impossible not to talk to someone when they talk to me. I was better at the "talking at you until you want to scream" tactic. haha) So I think I’ve always been pre-disposed to view silence as a negative thing. Therefore I tended to fill the silence. Always. I played music or podcasts in my car. I sang to myself when I was out doing errands. With four kids there’s was always some kind of screen making noise in our house. Whether loud or soft, there was ALWAYS noise.
But I had to change my thinking about silence when I started the Miracle Morning routine. It’s not a bad thing (except in the case of the aforementioned silent treatment...that's just crappy) and it’s not something that needs to be fixed. I’ve found that even just taking 60 seconds to breathe deeply in silence is soothing. Your silence could involve mediation, prayer, or literally just being still in the silence. Sometimes I find this silence during the day by choosing not to turn on a podcast, audio book or the radio when I’m driving. Having silence in the car actually feels really strange. But I also find it to be refreshing…to have 20 minutes with no voices, no demands, no questions. Just quiet. I let my thoughts wander where they will, I don’t try to direct them or control them. And I just enjoy the silence.
My morning Silence starts with listing a few things I’m thankful for. I may write these in my prayer journal or I may write them down in my datebook as a reminder through the day. I try to think of not only the big things—like a great new client or job opportunities for my adult kids—but also the little simple things like a warm cup of tea on a chilly day. Or the sounds of birds singing in the morning telling me winter is passing and spring is on its way. These things help me with perspective. They help me to remember that there are little blessings all around me and when I’m irritated with some fire I have to put out for work or one of my kids is being especially teenager-ish, pouring myself a hot cup of tea is a tangible reminder to live life from a place of gratitude.
I’m finding I actually look forward to that time of silence. It’s a great way to clear my head for the day in front of me. And it’s a useful thing to reach for during a hectic day, to get re-centered. Because silence isn’t so much about the absence of noise (although that helps). It’s more of a state of mind. Of letting my mind get quiet long enough to let go of the stress and constant thoughts whizzing through my brain. I often need that for just a minute or two during the day. And I know now that silence is not a punishment, it’s a treat.
So what about you? Do you ever intentionally sit in silence? Do you write out your gratitudes? What other things do you do in the mornings that help you with perspective through the day? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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