Nurturing Silence and Finding Moments of Solitude

Nurturing Silence and Finding Moments of Solitude

Although we may feel like we have no real say about how we spend our time, a careful and honest examination reveals this cannot literally be true. We make choices each day that explicitly reflect our personal values and individual priorities. When these commitments shift, so can our decisions about how we use our discretionary time and space.

Where To "Find" Quiet Time

Here are some times and places to consider for your adoption of quiet alone-time:

  1. Right after you get up in the morning. You may wish to wake up a bit earlier in order to accommodate this alone-time.

  2. During moments you would otherwise spend watching mediocre or negatively-themed TV shows.

  3. Commuting or running errands in your car. Turn off the music or radio and enjoy your own thoughts and perceptions.

  4. In your bedroom: create a "retreat space."

  5. As part of a soothing hot bath. Make it more luxurious with salts, scents, or candles. If you have no bathtub, make an appointment to visit a spa, hot springs, upscale hotel, bed-and-breakfast, or friend's hot tub.

  6. While sitting in a waiting room, a doctor's office, or a dentist's chair.

  7. As part of scheduled breaks at work or, if you're a student, between classes.

  8. In your spare (or guest) room, which might become a destination for mini-retreats.

  9. In an unused office or employee lounge at work or in school, perhaps used by others for this purpose.

  10. In your own garden, yard, or a nearby public park.

  11. In a local church, temple, mosque, or shrine, including surrounding gardens.

  12. During a walk. Motion keeps the left side of the brain busy, while the right side is free to wander, uncensored and imaginative.

Resistance to Change

Nurturing Silence and Finding Moments of SolitudeAs you make shifts in the way you use your time, you will confront resistance -- from yourself and others. Friends and family may not understand why you are doing things differently, even when you explain your reasons.

Within yourself, the part of you that dislikes change and craves predictability will put up a fight. These struggles are instructive in themselves, because they reveal how attached we are to what is predictable, even when the familiar no longer serves us.

The Sound of Silence

After we connect with silence and solitude, the workaday world gradually may begin to look and feel slightly different. This fresh perspective has the power to change our lives. For instance, we can change our relationship with ourselves -- simply paying closer attention to how we spend our time.

Some among us may begin, easily and willingly, to streamline an over-committed lifestyle. Others may discover that less really is more, that a simpler life can be a richer and more satisfying one. The possibilities are endless. Those Saturdays of childhood can live within us once again, if only for a few minutes each morning.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Red Wheel/Weiser, ©1990.

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Stillness: Daily Gifts of Solitude
by Richard Mahler.

Stillness: Daily Gifts of Solitude by Richard Mahler.A wider appreciation of silence and solitude can embolden and enrich us in unimaginable ways, and each of us has the power to embrace a kind of focused and purposeful silence in our own daily lives. Richard Mahler writes that one should approach silence with "an open mind, a porous heart, and a spirit of excitement and optimism." In Stillness he gives readers tools to do just that.

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About the Author

Richard Mahler, author of -- Stillness: Daily Gifts of Solitude

Richard Mahler is a writer who lives in Santa Fe when he isn't off in the wilderness alone. He has written widely about travel, the environment, spirituality, and politics. Author of eight books including Secrets of Becoming a Late Bloomer and Tending the Earth, Mending the Spirit, Richard also teaches a form of stress reduction that relies on meditation and yoga. Visit his website at

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