As featured in San Francisco’s M MAGAZINE Momentum Column (AUG 2013)
In our busy lives, we are constantly surrounded by ‘noise'….kids screaming, tv’s blaring, incoming emails, music on the radio, the pings of text messages and the pops of neon signs on streets. All around us is chatter, chatter, chatter! In the chaotic race of life, it’s so easy to get lost in our responsibilities and caught up in a whirlwind of to-do lists. Being adaptive creatures, we allow it to become the norm. Without realizing it, we find ourselves swept up in a storm of sorts; hamsters on a wheel. Our world hangs in the balance and we have become afraid to hop off the wheel, for fear that our lives will begin to fall apart. We are overwhelmed and exhausted….running ourselves ragged to keep our fragile worlds in tact. Somewhere along the way, we lost our center and find ourselves just trying to keep our head above water.
There’s a place that I go to when it starts to be too much; a metaphoric exercise, as I like to refer to it as. I drive up a winding road to the top of a mountain less than 4 miles from the hustle and bustle of my home. It overlooks the entire city….I see my home, my work, my life. At the top of this mountain, is a sprawling park outlined by forest tree and it feels like California again. It could be in Any Park, USA. The park is rarely busy and eerily deserted. I walk out to the grass and sit. I look at the city below, at my condo, at the coffee shop I frequent for my much-needed morning cup of joe, at the traffic filled streets of cars rushing to go to work or run errands. I hear the beeping of irritated drivers and the sirens of firetrucks answering calls. Oddly, it all feels so far away. I feel like I’m watching a movie. Like a bird soaring above an ant hill, there are so many tiny ants hard at work. I am absolutely immersed in quiet and it fills me. I liken this exercise to a Buddhist term: detachment or “non-attachment”. Basically, it is a state in which I release my attachments and desires in order to attain a heightened, more enlightened perspective. Physically taking myself out the 'rat race’ and going to a place of quiet….looking from a detached or 'bird’s eye’ view at my world…..seems to put everything back into perspective. I hop into my car and return to my world with a new sense of 'quiet’ and calm. I didn’t need to read anything, talk about anything, do any laborious activity….I just needed to quiet my world and regain perspective from a detached place. It’s such a powerful reset for me.
I’ve started to do this regularly….not only when things are starting to overwhelm me, but in order to maintain my center. The more regularly I did this, the easier I found it to quiet my world when I wasn’t able to get to the park. As I became more familiar with the practice of “detaching”, I found that I had the capacity to do this anytime and anywhere. Sometimes, it just involves shutting off the tv, turning the ringer off on my phone, and walking outside to look up at the sky. Other times, it involved closing my eyes at my desk and visualizing a bird’s eye view of my current surroundings. It takes practice….basically, just doing it regularly. At first, we need to go through the physical process of exiting our surroundings to detach. But, the more we do it, the more easily we can access that detached state. By doing this, we reconnect with our inner peace and, thus, gain a more enlightened perspective on our true situations. From this place of inner peace, we make better decision and choices….less reactive and more action-based (there’s a difference!). The silence I speak of getting to a state of being and it requires to do absolutely nothing…literally. Silence is the guru. When was the last time you took time to become truly silent?