The idea of surrounding yourself with absolute quiet might feel odd or even frightening to people accustomed to constant manmade noise. Expect that, but don't let it deter you. And yes, some people sit in silence for a year, but what works best for most of us is finding everyday moments of silence. Here's how to do that.
Silence is important in the morning because cortisol levels are highest then. Skip flipping on the news or opening the paper when you wake up. "It takes only 12 minutes in the morning to lower your cortisol," says Janet Luhrs, author of The Simple Living Guide. Spend the first 12 minutes of the day sitting quietly, watching the sun come up, with a steaming cup of tea.
It's normal to have a radio on while doing chores. But try going without and spending 30 minutes in quiet as you wash dishes, dust, or iron. "Those kinds of things are mindless in a good sense as they don't require us to do any heavy intellectual work," says Joseph Dispenza, a spiritual counselor and former monk who spent a year living in silence. This leaves you open to your intuition, that quiet part that can't be heard over noise. Don't be surprised if solutions to nagging problems become apparent during these quiet times.
Walking in nature is a simple way to find silence. Save the iPod for the gym and tune in to your natural surroundings.
The benefit of gardening is twofold: It puts you in touch with nature, and it's great solo silent time. Simply repotting some plants can bring stress levels way down.
A silent commute, with the CD player off, can be an especially beneficial way to both begin and end the workday, says Luhrs. Silently reflect on the day's events to renew a tired spirit and restore peace.
Cell phones, instant messaging, and e-mails are filled with sound and stimulation. Each technology comes with an accompanying noise, most of which we don't even notice any more. Try silencing all your tech gadgets from time to time and spend a few hours enjoying the difference that accompanies a quieter life.