Life is loud. The humming of your computer; the dinging of your smartphone; your air conditioner kicking in; traffic on the highway; laundry spinning; the dishwasher cleaning…all of these sounds take a toll. It is difficult in the midst of modern living to find peace and quiet…true live-in-the-country, watch-the-stars quiet.
I am blessed with four healthy children aged 8 to 15; an additional teenager bunking with us during the pandemic; a 94-year old mother-in-law; and a husband of 30 years. All of these creatures are loud more often than not. All of them are loving about being noisy most of the time and our house is generally a raucous, rambunctious, happy place. But it is rarely quiet.
I have read a few articles and talked with a few people who recommend meditation for at least 25 minutes a day to calm the mind and promote health and longevity. Although a laudable concept, meditation is not for me at this point in my life. Yet I need daily moments of stillness…of peace…of quiet. Hence determining how to find peaceful intervals during the day is important. I have made a few such breaks part of my daily routine. What follows are six steps that help me find peace and quiet in the midst of the chaos that is our modern society and daily lives.
1. Walking the dogs: We have two Yorkshire Terriers. They sleep with my children but the moment I wake up, they start to snuffle and whine and move around because I walk them each morning and each evening. I have found that the 20 minutes I spend walking the two dogs twice a day is a time of immense peace and happiness for me. Other dog walkers are generally friendly but most of the time I am alone with my puppies and my thoughts. It is an ideal time to bask in the quiet while also marveling at the natural beauty all around. Walking the dogs is a time of quiet reflection for me.
2. My daily walk: After walking the puppies, I walk myself. Rain or shine, I am typically out for a morning walk of between half an hour and an hour in duration. Although I enjoy calling and catching up with my folks or my friends during my morning walk, half of the time I walk in silence just thinking, looking around, greeting other walkers, and being present. That is a good time for me. I always come back from my walk refreshed and feeling much better.
3. Stretching in the shower: I love a hot shower and after I shower, I always stretch for at least a few minutes. The air is warm and full of moisture and I inhale deeply while stretching with the water beating down on my back. It is peaceful and my body appreciates being limber for the day because of the calisthenics.
4. Reading a good book: I have always loved to read. My first part-time job was at the Byron Public Library where I would bring home loads of books every day after work. Still decades later when I want to relax, I tuck into my chair with a good book and can read for literally hours at a time. Jeffrey Archer is a favourite author along with John Grisham, but anything that engages me will do. Reading a good book always makes me feel relaxed and happy, as does going to the library to find my next one.
5. Journaling: I keep a current journal with photos, pictures, words, poems, quotes, ideas, financial plans, business ideas, goals, items from the kids…anything that I find meaningful. Spending time writing in my journal or cutting out a photo or picture that speaks to me and taping it in is satisfying. I like the feel of the thick paper in my hands as I dream and create. That activity makes me feel good and at peace.
6. Hugging loved ones: The moment of a hug is a peaceful, happy point in time. We sometimes forget to slow down and hug our children, our parents, or our spouse. Life is rushed and hurried and often stressful so we race around oblivious to the power of touch. When we do take a moment to put our arms around someone we love, time slows down or stops. That point of touch allows us to take a deep breath in and out to remember the value of the people around us whom we love. When we take the time to show them we appreciate them, life always becomes a little bit better.
Daily life is hectic. Modern society values speed. Rushing around has become the norm. We are rarely without our phones. It is no wonder, then, that many people are anxious and unhappy. Being stressed on a regular basis is not healthy. In contrast, being able to find peace, stillness and relaxation in the midst of your day keeps you grounded. Your mental health improves with every touch, with every deep breath, with every positive thought. It doesn’t require hours of your time but merely minutes to change your mood. Yet taking those minutes is crucial to enjoying your life.
The key for me has been incorporating the above six steps into my daily routine. Once something is a habit, there is no need to motivate yourself to do it. You just do it. The above examples are mine and reflect what I find provides stillness and peace in my life. You may have different activities that make you feel happy each day. The key is being aware that you need some quiet in your daily life then determining the activities that provide you with that time. The objective is to find your own activities that bring you contentment and then incorporate them into your daily life and daily routine. Life is still loud. I don’t live in the country and the lights of the city make the stars hard to see. But the six activities above have permitted me to find stillness and contentment in the midst of all the noise. I am much happier for it.