The Sound of Quiet

quiet water and sunset

 

“Cherish your solitude. Take trains by yourself to places you have never been. Sleep out alone under the stars. Learn how to drive a stick shift. Go so far away that you stop being afraid of not coming back. Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. Decide whether you want to be liked or admired. Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here. Believe in kissing.”  ― Eve Ensler

Every so often, I like to take a ‘time out’ … to reflect and to dream and, yes, to write. Not blogs, but books.

There is no better tonic, in my view, for cleansing emotional toxins and for clearing the mind than the sound of quiet.

Some call it meditation.

For me, it doesn’t involve stretching or sitting in the lotus position or chanting “Om” …. it simply means that I spend some solitary time, enjoying my own company – no phone calls, no Skype, no visitors.  My husband, cats and dog respect my solitude and always greet me with a smile, a purr and a wag when I resurface.

Taking the time to breathe and rapture in the sound of quiet is not a luxury.  It’s a necessity, a sanity check.

Yes, we all live hectic and busy lives.  There’s so much noise all around us. However, I cannot stress enough how imperative it is for each of us to take the time (make the time) to be still and quiet. By “still” I don’t necessarily mean sitting still, but being still in oneself.  I do that while gardening, working on a home renovation project, reading, taking a long walk and, of course, writing.

I hope that you will take some time out… just for yourself.  Be still. Rejuvenate. Above all, be well.

And so, I’ll sign off for now.

“Cultivate solitude and quiet and a few sincere friends, rather than mob merriment, noise and thousands of nodding acquaintances.”  William Powell

 

Ideas lost in shades of grey …

Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

“However vague they are, dreams have a way of concealing themselves and leave us no peace until they are translated into reality, like seeds germinating underground, sure to sprout in their search for the sunlight.” 

~ Lin Yutang  (b.1895 – d.1976) – Chinese writer and inventor.

Have you ever thought  of a brilliant idea in your sleep, only to wake up and  find that you can’t remember it?

I hate it when that happens!

Last night, a few really good ideas for one of my chapters came to me and, being a light sleeper, I should have had the sense to wake up and jot them down but …. no, I decided to go back to sleep!

And now, for the life of me, I can’t bloody well remember them!

I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to retrace my thoughts ….

… still drawing a blank.

Maybe they’ll come back to me again tonight. Fingers crossed.

So this begs the question: Why does this happen? Why? WHY?

Is it because we:

  1. are sleep-deprived?
  2. suffer from too much stress?
  3. don’t meditate enough?
  4. lack vitamins?
  5. don’t eat enough seafood?
  6. are growing old (er)?

It could be any one, a combination, or all of the above.

As I’ve said many times before (maybe one day I’ll take my own advice!), the recipe for a healthy mind, body and spirit lies in one, simple practice:   Balance.

“We have overstretched our personal boundaries and forgotten that true happiness comes from living an authentic life fueled with a sense of purpose and balance.”   

~ Dr. Kathleen Hall, Author and Stress Expert

When we maintain a balanced life, we operate at peak level.  Our minds are stimulated. We think well and sleep well. We dream. And, amazingly, we recall/remember.  Here are a few tried and true tips to achieve Balance:

  1. Rest. Insomniacs are not able to function optimally. The brain needs to rest, in order to operate at its best.
  2. Meditate. Take a break and relax the mind. Gather our thoughts. Sit in silence. Regroup. This will bring us clarity of thought and completely re-energize us.
  3. Exercise. Do not omit this step! The process is simple:  cardiovascular exercise → improves blood flow to the brain → thus optimizing brain function.
  4. Eat healthy.  And, do NOT skip breakfast. Nuts (unless allergic), fresh fruit, green veggies and, yes, fish!
  5. Reduce your alcohol consumption.  Especially two hours before we sleep.  Alcohol is a depressant and it slows down/impairs mental function.
  6. Turn off the tellie (TV)! It’s a brain drain and, for the most part, a waste of valuable time.
  7. Stop relying on gadgets and exercise our minds.  Do we really need to use a calculator for simple math?  Do we really need to use the GPS every time?  Isn’t it fun and adventurous to discover a new place … by chance?
  8. Read a good book.  Reading helps us process ideas and thoughts.  It stimulates the imagination.
  9. Laugh and laugh often. Laughter is a great tonic for the brain and the spirit. Blood pressure goes down, and the “feel-good” endorphins flow to the brain.  Play the song  I Love to Laugh (from Mary Poppins) – remember that one? Laughter is infectious … in a good way!

On that note,  I shall go and fetch my notebook.  I just remembered the ideas and need to jot them down, lest I forget again!

 

Image via thehindu.com.

New Year’s Revelation No.5 of 7: Align Mind, Body and Spirit

“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

As enlightened individuals, we all comprehend – in theory – that in order to maintain a healthy body, a sound mind and a serene-yet-vibrant spirit … we must align these three entities, so that we can truly be whole.  However, in practice, this can be quite a tall order to fill. Our lives are hectic, complicated, often stressful, and – every so often –  tragedy strikes.  The more balanced we are, the more armed we will be to cope with whatever trials and tribulations come our way.  Stress is a predator.  If we’re not careful, it can eat away health, destroy the mind, and deflate the spirit. 

We are each masters of our own mind, body, and spirit.  If we blame other people, circumstances or events for our lack of balance, we are deluding ourselves.  Each person is ultimately responsible for herself/himself (the exception to this is, of course, someone who is completely physically or mentally incapacitated).  So, once we own up to our responsibility, it will then be time to take the next step —  Alignment. 

There are so many “alignment” methods to choose from and we’re not necessarily limited to only one.  Choose whatever combination of activities work with your lifestyle.

Personally, I have decided to incorporate yoga into my daily routine.  I am guilty of letting my mind, body, and spirit  get completely out of whack. I could stand to lose a few (!!) pounds.  I often let stress get the better of me, which results in elevated blood pressure levels.  And I am prone to bouts of melancholia (I am a Writer, so this is sometimes inevitable).  I have never taken yoga before. Nevertheless, I feel that I must make this part of my daily (not weekly) ritual.  I need balance. My life depends on it.  I am starting with video instruction, and then in March, I will go actual to yoga classes. Here, in the eclectic and bohemian village of Coconut Grove, we have a Hare Krishna Temple and I am considering attending classes there. 

Also, I love to dance. By myself. With my husband. On a dance floor with a bunch of total strangers. But, dance I shall.  It lifts the spirit.

So, here are a few (the list is not exhaustive) activities that will help you find discipline, harmony and serenity:

Make 2012 the year that you harmonize your mind, body, and spirit. Make good nutrition a priority. Try to eat organic food, whenever possible. 

Oh, and get some sleep.  If you are sleep-deprived, you will compromise your  overall health and you will have no energy left … to dance. 

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”  ~ Martha Graham

Images via blogs.orlandosentineal.com (top) and absoluteconfidence.com (bottom).