Are you up for our 3 Day Challenge?

Your mission should you choose to accept it: sit alone, in silence for 15 minutes, no phones, no music, no people, no distractions, everyday for the next 3 days. And it starts TODAY. Find a time that’s suitable for you, but not before bed. It needs to be during the day or in the early evening.

Where you want to do this is up to you but it needs to be as quiet as possible (meaning you can’t hear people talking, traffic passing by, footsteps, music, etc.). There needs to be no distractions, so your phone needs to be off and no music playing. If you need your phone to keep track of 15 minutes, put it on airplane mode and move it out of reach and out of sight. Be aware of the space you choose, make sure there won’t be people walking by or cars driving past.

Some suggestions for where to do this:

– In a quiet room with the door closed (let everyone know not to disturb you if this will be a problem).

– In a secluded spot at the park or inside a building, try not to be in an area where there’ll be traffic or people passing by.

– In the car with everything switched off, parked in a quiet, secluded place.

The main aim is to find a spot with as little noise as possible, as close to silence as possible. You want to clear your mind and not be thinking about distractions around you, you need to fill the space with just your own presence and nothing else.

At the start of the 15 minutes, take a deep breath. Relax your mind, unlock your neck, shoulders, knees and ankles. Try not to think of anything specific (don’t look at the clock), if thoughts come, acknowledge them in your mind with a ‘mmmmm’, try not to push them away. If you find it hard to stop your mind turning, focus on an aspect of yourself; follow your breath, the creases on your finger or the material on your clothing or your shoes.

When the 15 minutes is up, take a deep breath, try to let the resonance of how you feel stay with you for as long as possible.

If someone asks you what you were doing, or if you’re ok, tell them you were on a noise diet 🙂 Remember consistency is key. Congratulate yourself on completing day 1 of the challenge!

You Don’t Know What’s Good For You

A power blackout. Yes. Power blackouts can prove to be the most calming, connected, productive and creative silence that you’re forced into. I recently found myself in a 2.5 hour blackout at home on a windy night. Usually at this time, my family and I would have finished dinner. I’d be sitting in the dining room in front of my laptop with my mum sitting in the kitchen in front of her iPad. The TV would be on to fill in the background but no one would be watching. That night the electricity went, we rang the electricity company and they said it’d be an hour’s long wait (that ended up being 2.5 hours). Great, I thought. With no internet, no TV, my mum and I sat there busily lighting up candles around the room, looking through the windows to see if by chance any of our neighbours had any electricity, checking the door was locked. After that, there was nothing to do. We sat together around the dining table surrounded by candles and the sound of the wind outside. And that was a moment I won’t forget. The sheer silence, the absence of having to do something but just sitting there in silence in each other’s company. I felt a connection to my mother that I hadn’t felt for years. We talked but it was not in the usual hurried way, there was a calmness and sincerity that felt so comfortable.

This was brought to mind after one of our followers Magna drew that beautiful and inspiring picture below, the result of a power blackout. So bring on the blackouts! Or make your own ‘blackout’ by shutting everything down and lighting candles around the room. It’s quite magical without all that noise.

magna

Photo courtesy of Magna Chan.

How to Survive The Rest of The Week

How did you spend your weekend? Did you get any time alone for yourself? Or did you end up meddled in a bunch of activities that made the weekend fly by? Most of us by 6pm Sunday night wonder what happened to the weekend. Often, weekends entail activities planned that leave little time to yourself. You fly through a bunch of engagements or house chores and end up Sunday night wishing you had more downtime in your downtime. Here are 3 small things to do on Monday after work that will give you time to yourself, rejuvenate you, slow things down a bit and help you get through the rest of the week.

1. Take a walk alone

It doesn’t have to be a long walk, even 20 minutes is enough but the important thing is to do it alone and give time to yourself. Often when we are alone, not doing much, time seems to just slow down and we become much more aware of our inner sense of self. Try not to listen to music, or if you must, listen to classical or meditative music that doesn’t carry a beat. Be aware of your surroundings and focus on your breaths.

2. Meditate

You would’ve heard meditating can clear your mind and the heath benefits of regular meditation, and well, it’s absolutely true. People who meditate reduce the likelihood of being hospitalised for coronary disease by 87% and the possibility of getting cancer by 55%. If you’ve never meditated before or find it hard to wind down or sit still for 5 minutes even, then there are things you can do to help with this. Firstly, do a brain dump beforehand – sit down with a piece of paper and write continuously for 5 minutes without thinking. Just let all your thoughts go and see what comes out. Secondly, when you are meditating, if your thoughts come and enter your mind, try not to push them out, instead answer them in your mind with a ‘mmmm’. This may sound silly but it’s a way of acknowledging your thoughts without leading them on or having them come back again by trying hard to push them out. Be accepting that you will not have complete ‘silence’ in your mind the first few times. The key is consistency, make sure you find 5 minutes to do it every second day at least.

3. Take a bath

Or dip your feet in a bucket of warm water for 15 minutes. Fill it with relaxing oils, bath salts or not, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to let your muscles and mind relax and make that bit of time for yourself. Focus on your breathing, look at the water, look at your body, your feet. Make sure it is a quiet space around you and that you can be alone for 15 minutes. Massage your legs or your feet and be connected with yourself.

The idea is to have that space for your mind to relax. To be in solitude, in peace and to be comfortable.

Map Some Noise

Using your smartphone, you can help with noise pollution in your city. NoiseTube is a research project in the form of a mobile app available on the iOS and Android platform which you can download and use to measure the amount of noise in your locale, tag it and upload it to the online server to create a collaborative noise map which others can view. Using a participatory approach through the input of the general public, the app creates a huge array of data that can be far more detailed than official versions.

So far the app has been downloaded by 10,000 people with 2,700 registered on the NoiseTube website. The website provides users a place to look up their locale and find more information about the noise levels in their neighbourhood.

Watch a demo of the app here:

10 Things That Can Happen When You Actually Listen

1. You show that you care about a viewpoint other than your own.

2. You demonstrate patience.

3. You become a team player.

4. You prevent yourself from making assumptions or jumping to conclusions.

5. You broaden (rather than narrow) the discussion.

6. You ask better questions.

7. You show support.

8. You become genuinely interested in other people.

9. You become more connected with others.

10. You become ‘present’.