The Joys of Quiet in Recovery
After the busy holiday season most of us are now looking for a little peace and quiet.
Winter in the northern hemisphere has traditionally been the time for celebration- the little farm-work to be done meant more time for weddings, family gatherings and endless parties. This continues on into the present day with an even greater concentration of office parties, Thanksgiving celebrations, New Year parties, Christmas and Hanukkah and so on and so on. (follow this link for advice on Addiction and the Holidays) However, it is time to learn to focus on the benefits of quiet solitude and internal well-being.
Taking time out from a busy life is not a new concept: quiet reflection through prayer, pilgrimage or asceticism is a common theme among all of the major religions. With the decrease of religious practice, many are adapting these practices to fit the more secular and connected world.
It’s Good to Take a Little Time Out
In the fast-paced society in which we now live, it’s incredibly important to make time for yourself. Periods of reflection make it possible to assess ones connection with both the outer and inner world.
Recent studies have proven that there are significant benefits to allowing space for quieter moments. Not only does the calmness help alleviate stress from the responsibilities of day to day living- time away from the fast paced urban lifestyle can allow for the development of better cognitive skills with a better memory and attentiveness. This allows for much clearer and sharper thought.
In fact, some businesses have begun to enforce a few hours of quiet time each day during which employees must work alone without Internet or cell phone connections. These ‘quiet times’ has been proven to dramatically improve productivity.
In addition, neuroscientists have found that those who dedicate themselves to more quiet time or who live primarily in rural environments develop a much greater capacity for empathy and deep thought. This is because these skills require a slower variety of thought process in order to develop. Therefore, in focusing on making time to be alone with your thoughts you can become a better parent, sibling, partner and friend!
The Use of Quiet Reflection in Addiction Recovery
This type of exercise is especially relevant to those in recovery. Creating temporary physical and mental space away from your immediate life allows for reflection on the past, present and future. Being a bit removed from the situation makes this a good time to assess who you truly are as a person and how you have been acting and makes it easier to see what might need to change in your life.
As drug and alcohol abuse can impair cognition it is important to spend time exercising ones cognitive abilities when in recovery. Working on willpower and cognitive abilities in a meditative space helps to limit knee-jerk reactions. This decreases the likelihood of impulsive decision-making, since if you truly know yourself well through meditation, you will be able to assess situations much more accurately and work through them systematically.
Rehab centres such as Sobriety Home create a space that allows for this quiet reflection away from the immediate demands of day-to-day life.
How to Successfully Establish Time for Yourself
‘Getting away from it all’ is a common desire. In the technological world we live in it is now a dramatic step out of the flow to take time for you for even a brief moment. With the advent of round the clock connections to the world through the Internet and the nature of living in an urban environment it is increasingly impossible to take out this kind of personal time.
Going on vacation to find yourself à la ‘Eat Pray Love’ is idealised time and time again in popular culture:
But how many people can actually afford to drop their lives to take even a couple months off work to visit religious sanctuaries and eat exorbitant amounts of authentic Italian pizza? ‘Pulling a geographic’ is unnecessary to discover the benefits of quiet reflection.
Here are some suggestions:
- Make a point to cut out cell phone and Internet use on certain days/weekend. It’s very easy to set up your email so anyone trying to contact you will know to wait until Monday.
- Go to a park. Most cities have a number of dedicated green spaces that require absolutely no money to use! In the summer this can be an ideal location to meditate, go for a run, pick up tai chi or have a snooze in the sun. In the winter, there is always skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. (Don’t forget to ‘forget’ your mobile)
- Make a return to customs like family meals or keeping a journal- both practices that encourage reflection over the day past.
- Try out disciplines that encourage meditation such as yoga or Tai chi. The slow and deliberate movements of practices like this translate in real life to a calmer and more deliberate individual.
- If you can, try to go on a retreat, even just for a weekend. Physically removing yourself from the distractions of everyday life allows you to focus on and improve the deeper issues of your inner self.
The most important thing to remember is to not worry about getting enough quiet time every single day. This is something you can work on gradually over the course of your lifetime. As a result of the over-stimulated world in which we live, it can be a real challenge to sit peacefully and meditate without becoming bored, and this would. Even setting aside fifteen minutes a day can contribute to vast improvements.
In order to connect with others it is important to first connect with oneself, and reflection is one of the primary ways in which to do this. Enjoy your quiet time, but don’t forget to apply the skills you develop in the greater world!
Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.
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