Over the past few years, one habit has helped me gain a tremendous amount of self-awareness that I never had before.
It’s nothing fancy; in fact, it’s quite ordinary. It’s simply taking the time to do nothing with solitude and silence for company.
It was something I first began doing while I was in college. And as I slowly started to make a habit of this, I was surprised to find that it could make me feel very content and at peace.
Initially, when I thought about my habit, I used to feel weird because nobody had ever told me they enjoyed spending time in silence and solitude.
Moreover, in our society, it’s so normal to surround ourselves with people or constantly keep ourselves busy by jumping from one task to another that seeking out silence and solitude doesn’t seem like a thing many people would willingly choose to do with their time.
Now, make no mistake, I love being around people. But now and then I need some time to myself as I find it difficult to think clearly and feel centred when I am in overstimulated environments with lots of noise and things going on.
Now I know that might not be the case with everyone, but I believe that everybody can benefit from spending a few minutes each day in silence and solitude doing nothing.
Now what I mean by doing nothing is to spend some time by yourself where you set aside your electronic devices and have no agenda or any tasks to perform. I’m not suggesting that you set aside this time to contemplate on something particular either. Although you will find this may naturally happen as your mind starts to wander as you do this.
What I like to do this is to spend some time every day on the balcony of my apartment floor where there’s usually a cool breeze and a decent view, to walk, look outside and let my mind wander. Some days I also like to spend about 10-15 minutes with myself before going to bed to just be with myself in silence.
Now, apart from it being very peaceful and relaxing what I love most about this is the fact that the thoughts that appear in my mind as I do this can be very insightful. And this happens when I’m not even trying to think about anything in particular.
Now I am not saying these insightful thoughts pop up every time. But in the silence and solitude, when you don’t have any agenda, you can think with so much more clarity.
Just like the way we connect with others is through conversations and non-verbal communication, the way we connect with ourselves is through silence and solitude. For it is in the silence and solitude that you can listen intently to your thoughts and feel the nudges of your heart.
Knowing to be alone by yourself and enjoying your own company is very important, however, it’s seldom emphasised to us growing up.
As you make this into a habit you will naturally become more aware of what really matters to you and what’s worth spending your time on.
It can force you to be honest with yourself, face your fears and stop running away from them. While that may be uncomfortable, running away from them or avoiding and suppressing them is never a good solution in the long term.
It’s also important to note that our brains didn’t evolve to function optimally in our highly stimulating modern environment consuming seemingly endless bits of information. And as with any instrument, we need to respect and acknowledge its limits.
By spending time doing nothing, we also give our brain some much needed time to rest and relax, since our idea of taking breaks usually involves doing something or the other.
If you are someone who feels life is speeding by too fast, there’s nothing quite like taking the time to do nothing every day to slow down the pace of your life.
Now I know what I am proposing may not sound very compelling or stimulating, and you may naturally have resistance towards doing this.
But I never knew how powerful solitude and silence combined with doing nothing could be until I began giving it a chance. And that’s what I’d like to encourage you to do as well even if it's as little as 5 minutes daily.
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