How often do you get the opportunity to be still and have quiet time? A few years ago, I was walking on the beach early in the morning in Connecticut and I met a man who told me he needed seven minutes of silence a day. I gave this some consideration as I continued my walk and thought how much more productive I would be, and more importantly how much more efficient people would be in the workplace, if we all allowed ourselves seven minutes of silence each day.
I envisioned a gong going off in the afternoon at a company and everyone would get off their phone calls and not look at their emails or reports on their desks. All meetings would stop too. For seven minutes, everyone would have the ability to think about anything they wanted to. By allowing their minds to wander, they could possibly have the opportunity to solve a problem or even think about a dream vacation. After the time was over, a gong would go off again and people would resume their work.
It has been proven that people would be much more productive if they had some quiet time each day because the mind needs downtime to recharge itself. It is like taking a break when exercising that allows the muscles to recover. By continuously working, the mind will get stressed out. If the only time it can have “downtime” is when you are sleeping that may set it into overdrive, and your mind will bounce from one thought to another resulting in a restless sleep. You wake up groggy and your whole day is stressful because you are so tired. Then you go to bed and the cycle repeats itself which can eventually cause long-term illnesses.
Although this is difficult, it is imperative that you set up boundaries with others so you can find this quiet time for yourself. Others may be put off at first but it is your responsibility to take care of yourself. Nobody else is going to do it and after awhile they may follow your lead. If you are a manager, it is good business practice to suggest that those who work for you take a mental break several times a day. They will be happier, and more creative and effective, guaranteed.
At home, create a place that is free of electronics and other distractions. Make it comfortable and attractive – display interesting wall hangings and/or plants. Do not let others use it. It may be a chair in a corner of your bedroom or even a place in the attic or garage. As long as you find peace and solace there, it will be your personal sanctum. If necessary, hang a note saying you are in “time out” and will get back to them soon.
Hopefully over time you will feel calmer and you will see “freeing” your mind as necessary. If you find yourself struggling with being still, try this. Walk upstairs and pay attention to how your foot touches each step. Listen to the noise each step makes and try to stay in the moment. It will take less than a minute to get to the top so really strive to “stay present.” Keep trying this until you can master it. Then try a two-minute exercise like sitting on the top of the step after you walked up it. Add additional time until you ideally get to ten minutes. Namaste!