Mindfulness: Finding Space for Silence

  • Health and Wellness
Theresa Letman

I happen to be a person who thrives on and enjoys social interactions and conversing with others. Over the past few years, I have begun to realize how much I rely on those times. There are definitely some major benefits of being with others, watching mindless shows, scrolling the web, or participating in group events, but I noticed I wasn't making room for silence in my life. I wasn't sure if I truly felt a certain way, or if I had let the media make me think that is how I felt or what I wanted. I started doing more solo day hikes and one of them took me to Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Lakes, Colorado (highly recommended). During this wonderful experience, I noticed several people with stickers on their shirts that said, "I am on a silent retreat."

My first thought was, "I could never do that." I began to ponder on that and realized if that seemed so challenging to me, I needed to take it on. That gave birth to "Jenncations." I started making time for a weekend solo trip annually. This past summer I took my first independent backpacking trip. I hiked more miles than I ever had in a day, I camped alone and I climbed quite a bit in the heat. While all of that was challenging for me, I think the toughest part was no contact with family, no screens, very few conversations, and going hours without seeing another person. It is natural and beautiful that we thrive on human connections, but what about your relationship with yourself? That trip reminded me how often I am using technology and social media to distract myself. When I was growing up we didn't have all of the distractions that children have now, we had to explore and be curious to entertain ourselves. Unfortunately, all of the tools that surround us now are helpful, but can also  harm our creativity. I challenge you all to set time aside to "go on a date" with yourself. The better you know yourself, the better you will understand others.

Ideas:

  • Go on a digital fast for a period of time that seems realistic to you (no phones, computers, or tv)
  • Spend time in nature alone and in silence
  • Ask yourself what you are passionate about
  • Keep a journal of your day and how you reacted to certain situations(learn your emotions and what triggers them)Write in it nightly and look for patterns
  • Sit in silence and think about things that are hard to face and let them go
  • Ask yourself questions and listen for the answer
  • Go out to eat alone and leave your phone in the car
  • Pause social media for a period
  • Take a self-quiz (you can find these online)
  • Drive to or from work in complete silence(no radio or phone calls)
  • Disconnect your smartwatch from your phone for a period, every time it vibrates you are distracted from the moment
  • Go for a mountain drive alone
  • Write down all of your fears and burn them
  • Make a bucket list, but keep it small and things that can be done over the next 6 months. Then, start planning
  • Compliment yourself every day, stop speaking to yourself in ways you would never speak to someone else
  • Give yourself a daily email cut off time(ex: I will not check email past 6:00)
  • Get up and have your coffee/breakfast outside alone(fall is amazing)
  • Plan a leaf-peeping day trip(ask me if you need ideas)
  • Go easy on yourself, you are doing a great job
  • Share your story and be proud of it
  • Respect your mind and body
  • Never forget the impact you are making in this world
  • Ask yourself, "Who am I?"

 

For more on self-care as a parent, click here.

About the Author

Jennifer Gravlee, Aspen Leadership Institute Coach

Jennifer was born and raised in Bartlett, Tennessee and graduated from the University of Memphis with a major in Elementary Education. She brings 7 years of teaching experience to Aspen and loves helping children grow and learn. She can best be described as energetic, outgoing, passionate and optimistic.

 

Degree:

B.S., Elementary Education & Special Education, University of Memphis