The morning sunrises have been exceptionally beautiful this winter. Vibrant colors of fiery pinks and orange give way to bright blue skies and white fluffy clouds. There is something magical about being connected to nature, especially in the early morning before life has awoken. It takes me back to my youth. Deep within my memories, I have fond recollections of walking down to the lake and sitting on the pier watching the mist and fog slowly float away from the water’s surface. The egrets would fly along the edge and sounds of nature would slowing make their way into daylight like a tranquil symphony. I felt as if I was the only human being around. How often can we say that?
Most of us have lives that are super busy with noise scattered throughout.In some cases, in order to be distracted from audible commotion around us, we use background noise to flood out the sound (especially if you’re in the city). Because of this constant stream of stimulation, we lose touch with silence and quietude (state of stillness, calmness, and quiet within). Without this down time, we misplace our clarity and lucidity – our present day awareness.
Life definitely has its challenges and finding time can be difficult but we have to make it a priority. The more chaotic our world and lives are, the more our mind is unaware or unconscious. It ends up doing all the thinking for us. With this, we are not living a life from the inside out. Instead, we take external experiences and pull them in and this impacts our internal feelings. With opportunities of silence and reflection, we can regain our peace of mind.
Have you ever noticed a cat or dog? They are mindful creatures. They live in the moment and unless it’s dinner time, I guarantee they aren’t dwelling on the past or thinking about the future. In fact, getting in trouble for digging that hole in the yard is the farthest thing from my dog’s mind right now! For sanity and clarity sake, I encourage you (humans) to take a time out….stop and “smell the roses.” Do this in complete silence or at least sounds that are not contrived by artificial means. Allow nature to be your canvas. By taking moments of quiet with no phone, earbuds, etc. we become attached to the beauty around us. The soft external environment slowly seeps into our internal being. We begin to wrap ourselves in the present moment and notice things around us that we possibly took for granted or were not aware. In a doing world, there is something captivating about simply being and capturing the bliss of doing nothing. This is good for you! We don’t have to be accomplishing a task all of the time. The moments we aren’t completing a project or work, most of us turn to television which is more stimulation. By giving yourself this precious time to unwind in a quiet environment, you calm the central nervous system and begin to tap into your creative side. This, in turn, helps you become more productive when you resume your task(s).
Discover the world around you. Schedule times in nature or simply start small. If you check emails on your phone as you walk to meetings, detach from your device and engage your eyes to your environment. This can be the first step if you’re not comfortable with total quiet. Although you’re not in silence, you may be more aware. I also recommend driving home without turning on the radio. By tuning out sound, you’re more in touch with your surroundings and may notice buildings or objects on your way home that you hadn’t noticed before. I had someone recently tell me that they hadn’t noticed the new office building that was almost complete. This building is on their drive to and from work every day. It’s really amazing what we don’t see on our daily route! Maybe you take walks or run outside but you listen to music, books or podcasts. My best ideas come to me at these moments when I listen to nothing. Next time, simply be outside without any artificial noise. You may observe something new in your path that has always been there. Use nature as your backdrop. If you have trouble, ask yourself – “Am I trying to distract myself and not deal with silence and thoughts that may appear?”
Lastly, use the seasons (especially in North Carolina) as a means of cultivating mindfulness. The leaves simply let go and drop in the autumn. What can you let go of? In the winter there is the silence of solitude with the sound of rustling leaves on oak trees that are resistant to release into the Earth. Even some of nature has a difficult time relaxing. In the spring, there is a renewal as bulbs and leaves appear with brightness. Be like nature and give yourself quiet contemplation so that you can emerge with energy to give to yourself and the world. During summer, enjoy the vibrancy of nature with its sun-soaked beaches and shimmering oceans. By taking time to let go and slow down, nature and humans build up their strength and evolve into new life and energy, living life from the inside out!