Back in November, I went away for a weekend’s retreat, and it was one of the best things I did last year. I have a lot going on in my life, and clearing that space meant juggling some commitments around – but it was well worth it. I felt much happier and more relaxed than I had done in a long time, and I came back from the weekend determined to keep some of that “quiet space” in my regular life.
I expect that you’re similarly busy. You probably find it hard – logistically and emotionally – to find any time for yourself. When you do get a gap in your day, you end up filling it with chores or emails or tasks that have been on your to-do list for months. And when it comes to the evening, you probably don’t have the energy to do much more than turn the television on.
Even when you’re short of time, though, it’s possible to find yourself a quiet space – mentally, if not always physically! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
If you have … five minutes
Five minutes might not seem like long, but if you sit in silence, focusing on your breathing, you’ll realise how refreshing that time can be. You might want to read up on meditation, or, if you’re religious, you might like to pray.
However busy you are, you can find five minutes a day – perhaps five minutes before work, during your lunch hour, and when you come home from work – to simply sit quietly and let yourself calm down from the busyness of the rest of your day.
If you have … half an hour
Although finding a half-hour block in your day is more challenging than snatching five minutes, it’s definitely possible. It might mean taking your lunch break (instead of working through it), or using the first half-hour when you get home from work in the evening.
Half an hour is a great length of time to go for a brisk walk. I find that walking is one of the best ways of being active, because you don’t need any special equipment, you don’t need to shower afterwards, it’s free, and you can do it almost anywhere. Instead of listening to music while you walk, opt for silence, and observe your thoughts.
If you have … an afternoon
Free afternoons (or mornings) don’t come about all that often, so make the most of them – and try blocking out a Saturday or Sunday afternoon every once in a while. (If you have kids, try arranging a childminding swap – you’ll take your friends’ kids if they’ll have yours the following week.)
A whole morning or afternoon is perfect for digging into a creative project. Whether you like to work with paint, clay, words, music or even food, give yourself the chance to make something. Don’t rush it, or feel that you have to produce something perfect or finished – just enjoy the process of creation.
If you aren’t in the creative mood, try curling up with a great book that you’ve been wanting to read for a while. Treat yourself to a mug of good coffee or hot chocolate too, and enjoy!
If you have … a weekend
Empty weekends are few and far between, and you may have to plan several months ahead to get one. It’s worth it, though: a whole weekend away from the busyness of life can refresh you, get your creative juices flowing, and help you think through the priorities and commitments that you have.
There are many places – some religious, others not – which welcome visitors to come on a retreat. Some retreats are run like courses (e.g. for painters or writers), others are very free-form and you can do whatever you like. Alternatively, you could just book yourself into a hotel, or go hiking for a weekend. Choose something which gets you away from the computer, the phone, and all your day-to-day worries – make yourself as uncontactable as possible!
I’d love to hear how you find quiet in your life, whether it’s for short or long periods.
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