Cultivating Silence in a Busy Life

Carla - Tempe, Arizona
Entered on April 19, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

In our fast moving world filled with distractions around every corner, I believe in cultivating moments of silent meditation each day. The Dalai Llama says, “I think one should try to take out some time, with quiet relaxation to think inwardly and investigate the inner world.” Over the past three years I have been working to include moments of silent meditation into my everyday life.

My day is typically filled with interactions from the moment I wake to the time I lay my head down to sleep. My elderly dogs require constant attention, my job as a teacher requires continuous monitoring and accountability to students, parents, and administrators. The television, radio, and internet can easily fill my hours and ears with news stories, music, and advertisements. Car horns, barking dogs, clamor from my neighbors, and construction work rankle my nerves. It’s easy to get lost in the whirling din of constant motion and noise. My head seems to reel right along with the unrelenting racket, and I find myself moving through life at warp speed spinning like a top instead of actually being present in my life.

Over the past three years that I have been actively cultivating moments of silent meditation in my life, I have noticed a tremendous difference in my outlook and general health. My journey began when I started to practice yoga. The physical practice led me to the discovery that silence allows me to slow down, reconnect with my inner voice, and be in the present moment. Each day I find time for a short meditation where I breathe deeply and consciously, repeat a saying or message, and just center and connect with the energy of the moment.

Last July a 100 year flood hit my neighborhood. An inch and a half off rain fell in about half an hour. As I was heading home in the storm, I turned onto my street, which unknown to me raged like the Colorado River. Unable to stop because I knew my car would stall, I had to keep driving as the water rose higher. Water lapped up over my wheels and debris flowed by; I noticed rapids actually forming where other streets drained into the road I drove down. Instead of panicking, I took a breath, pulled inward, and felt a sense of calm. I was able to detach from this terrifying moment and come into focus as I steered my car through the water and up to the safety of my driveway. Looking back, I realize that my practice of daily silent meditation allowed me to be present and calm in that moment. Even though chaos existed all around me, I felt peaceful and safely navigated this difficult situation.

Distractions surround us every day. Find your quiet moment of silent meditation. It could be on an evening walk, at a special place at home or even driving to pick up the kids. Be present, get calm, find your center. You’ll be better because of it.