By Leo Babauta
“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”
There’s rarely a moment in the day when most of us stop moving and stop the noise. For most of us, we’re working, we’re moving, we’re driving, we’re listening to things on our headphones, we’re watching things, we’re filling up the little spaces by checking our phones.
This isn’t wrong — it’s a very human tendency to want to be busy, productive, filling every space with something useful or entertaining.
But what if we could let ourselves become quiet?
What happens is something magical: we start to discover a new way of being alive, and a deeper experience starts to reveal itself to us.
What does it mean to become quiet? There isn’t a simple answer to this, but here are some of what I’ve been learning:
- It means slowing down for at least a few minutes, physically — refrain from moving around doing a lot of things, refrain from doing a bunch of tasks on your computer or phone, but instead just sit or come to some kind of stillness or slowness.
- It doesn’t mean you need to meditate — though of course that’s one way to do it. Instead, you could go for a quiet walk in nature, or sit watching the sunset, or lie in a hammock and just feel the breeze.
- Move away from technology, at least for a few minutes. Disconnect. Let go of reading and listening as well. Just sit still or move slowly, not trying to get anything done or consume anything.
- It means you let go of being productive or being entertained. You don’t need to achieve anything, prove anything, be excited. You let go of these kinds of compulsions, even for a few minutes.
- It means you don’t need to feel a certain way, or avoid feeling a certain way. For example, a lot of people want to feel productive, competent, entertained, so we do whatever we can to get those kinds of feelings. Also, we don’t want to feel bored, lonely, sad, helpless … so we do everything we can in order to avoid these feelings. Becoming quiet means we can allow ourselves to feel however we feel, just allowing it to be our experience. This gives us a freedom for life to be just as it is, and for ourselves to be just how we are, however we’re feeling.
Stillness and quiet aren’t the sexiest things, where you can make a lot of money or get a bunch of followers or viewers. We don’t usually realize we’re craving quiet. But in my experience, this is where the deepest experience of life lies, in the quietude.
What might you hear in the stillness and quiet? What life has to say.
“In stillness, the world is restored.” — Lao Tzu