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The Search for Silence Amid the Holiday Hustle & Bustle

by Jeremy McCarthy

Amid the noise of the holiday season, the search for stillness and the sound of silence

This year, in several of our spas, we are trying something different for the holidays. We will be offering “Silent Night,” a silent retreat where we invite our guests to enjoy the spa in silence (no talking, no music). The idea is to help people carve out time for stillness and personal reflection amidst the crazy hustle and bustle of the holiday period.

Silence is becoming a rare and precious commodity in our high-tech, fast-paced, hyper-urbanized world. For the growing population of city-dwellers, the cacophonous backdrop of horns honking, sirens blaring and planes flying by has just become accepted as the new normal.

Thanks to our earbud headphones, we drown out some of the superfluous noise by tuning into other audio programs more of our own choosing: streaming music on Spotify, the latest podcasts from iTunes or binge-watching reality TV shows on Netflix (to name just a few of our favorite audio escapes).

But the availability of nonstop streaming audio content is as much a curse as it is a blessing. It means we always find ourselves plugged in, always seeking the company of one of our devices. In our culture of nonstop productivity, we no longer appreciate the lulls, but see them as gaps to be filled in.

But just because we can fill every waking moment with educational and entertaining content, doesn’t mean we should. The real you—the essence of who you are—is buried somewhere underneath all of that digital noise. So the question is: how and where can you carve out a time and space away from the hustle and bustle of the real (and virtual) world to reconnect with your inner you?

Here are a few thoughts about creating more space for silence in your life.

      1. Schedule time in your day for silence. The first hour in the morning and the last hour before bedtime are the best times. Resist the urge to turn on “content” first thing in the morning. And create a bedtime ritual that involves unplugging well before going to sleep.

      2. Find safe havens. If you live and work in a noisy urban environment, seek out places where you can escape for a few minutes of silent retreat throughout your day. Look for a spa, a church, a library or a park where you can go to escape noise. Even five minutes can help you gather your thoughts and reconnect with a higher purpose.

      3. Practice listening. Practice spending time with others where you speak less and listen more. Observe what is going on around you while being fully present to those who are close to you.

      While “meditation” and “mindfulness” are becoming hugely popular buzzwords in the wellness space, whether you wish to incorporate this into your silent practice is up to you. Many people struggle with meditation because they find it hard to “turn off” their overactive mind. Don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve some perfect zen-like state of grace. Just get used to spending some time in the day in silent contemplation. Meditation and mindfulness are easier to achieve when there is no effort. Just be quiet, and allow whatever comes up to come up.

      Now, shhhhh.

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