Taking Quite Time
This month's Creative Challenge may not seem very creative - it is about setting aside some time for doing absolutely nothing! Yet, in my personal experience, taking 20 min to do nothing has been one of the most creativity-enhancing experiences in my life. It allowed all kinds of creative ideas, new realizations and even completely surprising "gifts" (such as writing poetry) to appear in my life.
I have found that new insights are able to come into our awareness only when we allow time for contemplation, reflection and mindfulness. All of which can be easily achieved in as little as 20 minutes a day spent in quietness and stillness. Our brain and body cannot get into creative space unless we are completely relaxed and peaceful. I have found that quiet time helps me to achieve those two states of being - relaxation and peacefulness, on a daily basis. It has literally been a life-transforming practice for me.
Below is the description of this very simple practice I do every day.
You may have a preference as to when to take this time of being quiet and still. However, it is recommended to take it early in the morning while your brain hasn't kicked into "high gear" of daily activity and can more easily enter into the slower brain wave patterns, which actually allow it to work at its optimal speed and make new neural connections. I take it later in the morning, after my family has had breakfast and moved on to their morning activities.
Here's what you need to Take Quiet Time:
(this practice comes from one of my favorite books "Three Simple Steps to Success in Business and Life" by Trevor Blake)
Be alone - this assures that you are not interrupted and quiet!
Sit with your back supported and your feet firmly on the ground - this assures you do not fall asleep!.
Make sure you are sufficiently warm and hydrated (a nice blanket and cup of hot tea will work wonders) - this assures that you don't hate your Quiet Time and actually enjoy it.
Relax - take a few deep breaths and let all tension out, repeat if necessary. Let your entire body relax start with the top of your head, your eyes, cheeks, jaw, neck shoulders, arms and hands, chest and back, abdomen pelvic area, thighs, knees, calves, ankles and down to your toes. You can also let out a sigh out loud - this helps your body to relax.
Ground yourself - close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths and imagine energetic roots growing from the bottom of your feet and penetrating the floor of the building you are in, through the foundation, down in to the ground and deep into the center of the earth. You are connecting to the grounding energy of the earth and receiving beautiful balancing energy from it
Notice your breath - while breathing normally (no deep breathing here), bring your attention to your breath and notice it entering and exiting your body. Keep your focus on your nostrils, where the oxygen-reach air enters, imagine it going down to your lungs and carbon dioxide leaving through the nose. It helps to mentally say words In and Out as the air enters and leaves your body. Continue noticing your breath for the next 20 minutes.
Stay still - although, some movement will occur naturally as you breathe, it's recommended to remain still and relaxed during this time, so both your body and mind have a chance to quiet down.
Distracting thoughts - if you start noticing a lot of mental chatter happening in your mind, don't get discouraged, being aware of it actually helps the process. Notice it and let it go, imagine it as a cloud of mist that dissipates into the air, or a balloon going up and disappearing in the clouds above. Gently, bring your focus back to your breath and notice it going in and out.
Stretch - take a nice stretch as you open your eyes and re-engage with life around. You will feel refreshed as if awakened from a nap.
That's it - it looks like a lot of steps here but in reality they all take mere seconds to complete.
Continue with this practice for a week or a month and do let me know if you notice any difference in your day. I bet you will be very pleasantly surprised.
Some helpful tips: I usually set a small timer for my quiet time so that I'm not tempted to be constantly checking how much time has passed - it helps me to relax in to the practice and not worry about the time.
If you are not able to take Quiet Time first thing in the morning - try fitting it into your day whenever you can. Some potential places for taking quiet time could be your car (while it's parked!) before you head to work or an empty conference room at work or even library. Some people are able to relax and do this in public places such as on public transit. etc. The key is to make it your own and adapt it to your situation. The most important thing is to actually do it!
I would love to hear how this challenge is going for you and if you are noticing any difference in your day. If you would like to receive updates in your mailbox, be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter.
The practice of Quiet Time comes from one of my favorite books "Three Simple Steps: a Map to Success in Business and Life" by Trevor Blake.