The Mindful Journey is a series on Mindfulness and Meditation
As a young girl, my mom used to tell me we were having quiet time in the afternoons. I soon discovered this was when she wanted to read a book or for me to play by myself. I’m sure I was at that age where children stop taking naps and start being very noisy.
Quiet time is no easy task for a 4-year-old. And it has not become easier as I have grown older. Meditation has become one of my main sources of quiet time. I had been meditating on and off for 10 years before I discovered Mindfulness. Meditation while a practice I value deeply, has never been easy. Sitting in quiet, focusing on one’s breath can be a herculean endeavor.
It started with Zen meditation which I learned while studying abroad in Japan. Meditation lets you bring quiet time into one’s day. The Mindfulness movement uses traditional meditation to help us manage clinical conditions, stress, heart conditions, and mental health.
Jon Kabat-Zin, the godfather of the modern mindfulness movement, is on Medium. I came across his piece on busyness and mindfulness. He tells us “Saying yes to more things than we can actually manage to be present for with integrity and ease of being is, in effect, saying no to all those things and people and places we have already said yes to.” It is so easy to fall into this trap. The need to people-please, to say yes, is strong in all of us especially women. The notion that when you are saying yes to too many people or things, you aren’t pleasing anyone.
Quiet time is the opposite of being busy. It can be a nothingness, it can be boredom, or it can be a good book. Moments of meditation can be quiet time. Mindfulness practice teaches us it is not only meditation that can bring us quiet. To be present doing the dishes is a moment of mindfulness, a moment of quiet. There is a busyness inherent in chores. Mindfulness gives us the option of being quiet during our chores. Asking us to notice the actions of washing the dishes. We are not thinking about the next chore only the action at this moment time. Listen to the water running, feel soap on your hands, the movement of your arms. Washing dishes becomes a moment of quiet.
Finding quiet time is saying no to being busy and yes to being present. For a creative person, quiet time is essential even in the mundane act of doing your own dishes. So often giving ourselves quiet time is no easy task. We turn on the TV, the radio, or a podcast for background noise. Yet, we crave quiet time. We search for ways to get away. We take long baths, go for walks. We spend time in nature. We try not to feel guilty when we turn off or tune out.
There is solitude to my workdays. I am able to write more and better when I can find a quietness. Still, I am tethered to my devices even when I’m alone. Chat alerts go off. Social media notifications flash. To admit my struggles with finding quiet time is perhaps like any addict the first step to recovery. Mindfulness tells us to notice what is happening in the present moment. To notice the interruptions, the distractions, and come back to your breath, to come back to now. My search for quiet time is like my journey with mindfulness, a life-long pursuit that began when I was a very young girl.