The Power of Turning Off & Tuning In: 3 Ways to Give Yourself the Gift of Silence
By Jim Nicolai, M.D., medical director, Andrew Weil, M.D. Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval
I talk about the power of silence in my book Integrative Wellness Rules: A Simple Guide to Healthy Living. Silence gives us the chance to listen to the whisper – that part of us that inspires, invites new opportunities and challenges, and gives us creative ideas. It’s hard to hear the muse when we are chasing out tails; and the pace of our lives encourages us to do just that. Silence opens the door for us to be, not do.
We need to actively fight for chances to get out of the noise and speed of our lives, and slow down into quiet. Miraval Resort and Spa offers such an opportunity. It can give us permission to get rid of our to-do lists and remember how to simply be in the present moment without judging it to be good or bad. But sometimes, even at Miraval, the lure of filling our schedules can be quite appealing.
And even there, my recommendation to Miraval guests is to practice one simple action plan: turning off and tuning in.
Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, this is something we should fight for and protect every single day. A time free from e-mail and cell phones, iPads and MP3 players, and just focus on simply being in the moment. It is better for me to do this in nature, although creating a meditation space in your home that has nature in it – plants, flowers, a bonsai tree – is perfectly fine from my perspective. If you want music inside, let it be soft, calm, flowing and rhythmic. But I’d rather have silence – make freedom from excess noise a reward.
If you are outside, go someplace where only the sounds of nature can play their melodies – a park, a pool or fountain, somewhere close to mountains or trees. Let birdsong and waterfalls be your music, and let yourself be within it. Try the following activities:
- Do breathing exercises – breathe fuller, deeper, more rhythmically even while you walk or sit. Stressed out? Try the “wave breath” or the “4-7-8 relaxation breath.”
- Practice mindfulness – the technique of bringing all of our awareness to the here and now, to the immediate sensations in our bodies and breathing it in without judgment of right or wrong, good or bad. Full awareness in the now keeps us from slipping into our to-do list or past history.
- Pray or say affirmations – this can often help us stay mindful of the present moment. Feeling and expressing gratitude can be a wonderful form of prayer.
As you tune in, allow yourself to gauge where you are in the quiet of the present moment. Assess your level of harmony, energy, and stress. Notice if you are in equilibrium or falling off balance. Let the power of silence move you toward health.
* * * * *
You might also like:
Mariel Hemingway on Taking the Time for Silence
Give Yourself the Gift of Silence Through Ayurveda & Shirodhara
Connect with Nature: The Physical & Mental Benefits of Getting Outdoors & Outside of Your Comfort Zone
Too Stressed to Meditate? Try These 6 Easy Tips!
It’s Okay to Unplug
Dr. Jim Nicolai is a board-certified family practitioner and a graduate of the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona in Tucson, under the direction of Dr. Andrew Weil. Dr. Nicolai has a special interest in whole-person medicine, addressing patients as mental and emotional beings, energetic and spiritual entities, and community members, as well as physical bodies. His expertise is in combining conventional medicine with the intelligent use of complementary and alternative therapies, including herbs and other botanicals, vitamins and supplements, lifestyle management, and stress reduction.
Dr. Nicolai’s book Integrative Wellness Rules: A Simple Guide to Healthy Living was released by Hay House Publishing on January 2, 2013. $14.71; amazon.com