I’m not a big exerciser. I walk everywhere, but besides that, the last time I sweated and panted in a gym was probably back in high school. Still, I like feeling like I have a basic level of fitness, so every evening I do a series of sit-ups and stretches and other things.
Recently, though, I’ve added a new miniature exercise to the routine: I finish my little workout by sitting on the rug and meditating quietly for a few minutes. I’m a complete beginner and find my mind leaping wildly from breath to breath, but there are brief moments when I’m stunned by the experience of silence. I’m talking about silence both without and within; we might be surrounded by relative quiet every day, but our minds are buzzing or screaming at a near-constant rate most of the time. Sometime in my quiet sitting, though, I found myself listening to the sound of the dishwasher with a new appreciation; and when that faded, I listened to the quiet of the evening house with amazement. For just a brief time, I was able to inhabit my surroundings, instead of thinking about anything but where I was.
There’s a small miracle in silence. It happens so rarely these days, and yet when it does, it allows us to remember who we are, what is around us, and that we are human and alive. It allowed me to think about the important elements of my story and my own creativity in a fresh way. It took away the dullness and numbness of the end of a long day and made me feel refreshed.
I highly recommend allowing a little silence into your daily life as well. That doesn’t mean checking your email without the music playing, or watching TV on mute; it means pushing away from the million distractions and worries and trying to experience a little silence in your own mind. Stop and listen to just one thing at a time, or sit and listen to your own thoughts. You’ll emerge from this silence refreshed and with new ideas about what your writing needs, and maybe about what you need as well.