I’ve been taking a Stress Management class run by the University of Pennsylvania for about six weeks now. I’m learning how to do Mindful Meditation…yes, I’m learning how to be mindful…to reduce the stress in my body and my mind and relax in the present moment…not in the past…not in the future…to relax right now.
Today…I spent the entire day…one entire day in silence. It was the culmination of all six classes of mindfulness that I had learned during the past six weeks…I practiced every move…with about 100+ other mindfulness students…in total silence.
From 9:00 am through almost 4:00 pm I didn’t utter a word…not one word…nope…not one word. I ate in silence too…chewed my bagel in silence and ate my yogurt and strawberries in silence…took a walk outside in silence. I thought it was going to be difficult for me…thought my Type A personality just wouldn’t be able to do it…but I did…and at the end of the day I gave myself a pat on the back…along with a long phone call to my friend so I could make up for all the talking I hadn’t done during the day.
It felt good to be silent for an entire day…it was a good cleansing of my mind and body…and likely my soul got cleansed too…and so did my vocal cords…yes…me and my 50 year old body spent the day on a yoga mat…first meditating in mindfulness…sitting in the moment…each moment…then lying down to do a bodyscan meditation…connecting with each part of my body…stretching with yoga movements and then ending with a walking meditation outdoors (I even stayed silent when I walked past a garage sale…even when a young girl tried to trick me and ask me if I was with the ‘silent group’…she didn’t fool me…nope…I just shook my head and kept on walking).
The mindful walking exercise in the gymnasium was the best…first we had to walk in a circle…being mindful of the movement of our feet…heel, sole, toes…heel, sole, toes…then we had to speed up…and then turnaround and speed up the other way…and then turnaround again…and again…until the instructor told us to stop…to stop and see how it felt…how our mind felt and how our body felt after such stress.
Is that what I do every day…I thought to myself…speed around in circles…is that what my life is like…sure feels that way sometimes…no wonder I’m one big stress ball…I do spend half my time re-living the past…or worrying about the future…instead of living in the moment and enjoying each moment.
Yesterday was quite stressful when I received my cellphone bill that was twice the amount it usually is because I used up all my rollover minutes…wish the phone company would tell customers when they do that instead of charging me 35 cents for each extra minute and causing me to have an incredibly stressful moment when I open up my bill. Stop,breathe,and be…I tried to practice what I had learned in my mindfulness class as I stressed out about my bill. (It helped a little…didn’t take away the bill…but I was more relaxed.)
And this morning was quite stressful too…when my sunglasses broke…especially when today was a sunny day and I needed my sunglasses. Stop, breathe, be…I practiced again.
Then I had another stressful moment when the compressor on the air conditioner in my house broke down…that was real stressful…in fact, it was so stressful that I almost missed my day of silence. So glad my son yelled to me to leave and not be a cop out. “You sure need a stress management workshop now, mom please go” he said to me as I woke him up at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning to tell him that I was stressed out about the air-conditioner being broken and to listen for the repairman and to be sure to answer the door when the repairman arrived to fix the air-conditioner. He sure didn’t stress out about it…he just said “okay” and went back to sleep…my good old Beta guy…he’ll never need a day of silence…not like his stressed out mom.
Yes, glad my son was so encouraging or I would have copped out…and then I would have missed a great day…a day to reflect on myself…to not talk to anyone else for several hours…to live fully in the present moment…to not think about the phone bill…or the air conditioner compressor…or anything in the past…to not think about the packing I was going to have to do when I arrived home…since I have to leave for a business trip tomorrow…to not think about the work I had to do…or the laundry that was waiting for me…yes…after today I realize that sometimes ‘silence is golden’…it felt so good that I think I need to cleanse my mind and body again sometime…maybe even once a month…that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up my monthly facials…but silence may do wonders for my 50-something body…and mind…and soul.
What’s that song about silence that Simon and Garfunkel used to sing many years ago…ah yes…The Sound of Silence…how does that tune go?
Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence.
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of
a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one deared
Disturb the sound of silence.
“Fools” said I,”You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words like silent raindrops fell,
In the wells of silence
And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the signs said, The words of the prophets
are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.
And whisper’d in the sounds of silence.
Try a day of silence and let me know how it works for you…I think you’ll like it.