Last week I had the opportunity to take a personal retreat to Chincoteague Island for three days. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Chincoteague is protected to the East by Assateague Island, which is a national seashore. You can walk for miles along the coast without encountering any of the annoying signs (or sounds) of mankind that mar most beaches. The island is home to over 320 species of migratory and resident birds, and myriad other wildlife. I rented a bicycle two mornings to pedal around the wildlife refuge’s trails and bike paths. If you read Misty of Chincoteague as a child, you will be happy to know that the world-famous wild ponies still roam the marshes of the island.
Except for dinners with friends, I was quiet most of the time. No television or radio…just blessed silence and my own thoughts to keep me company. Sure, I took a stack of Harvard Business Review magazines and back issues of Fast Company, but they sat in the corner of my room (right next to my untouched laptop). I wrote in my journal, finished reading A New Earth, and thought a lot about my life, my family, my work. Meals were simple and consisted mainly of my favorite foods: yogurt, fruit, salad, squash, brown rice, and seafood. Napping with the windows open in my tiny rented cottage was a daily luxury.
The English philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote “…it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.” When I am in a place where I can just be still and quiet, my spirit is renewed. I slow down and notice not only what is all around me, but also what is inside of me. When I am quiet, my mind has an opportunity to rest. When the chatter of my thoughts subsides, I can start to hear the quiet voice of my essential self. Peace washes over me. Time slows. Silence soothes. Joy abounds.
When did you last experience the joy of sustained silence? You don’t have to travel to find the solace of stillness. Even an afternoon or an hour of quiet can restore balance and calm to your life. I hope that this month you will find an opportunity to be quiet, even in the midst of what may be a noisy, busy life. I promise you will reap many benefits.
Sharon Keys Seal