Silence

My husband was a quiet man. Except when watching sports. Then he became an armchair coach, always yelling at the players. Sometimes when he was sitting quietly I would ask what he was thinking. The answer was always the same. Nothing. For someone with an A.D.D. brain this doesn’t quite compute. My mind is hardly ever still. It is like a pinball game in there. Thoughts bouncing round and round. Every bit of outside stimulus entering into the chaos I call my thoughts. I often thought he was just too lazy to tell me what he was ruminating on. My thoughts are so random and crazy that there is no possible way to describe them before another one flies by. In yoga I find the most difficult pose is Savasana, or corpse pose. Lying flat on your back with legs slightly apart and arms resting comfortably by your side with palms up. Sounds easy doesn’t it. Well this pose is powerful. The whole body is in touch with the earth to connect with your root chakra. While it is relaxing and meditative, it is also a time when I am unable to empty my mind. I do the next best thing and as I focus on my breath I breathe in thousands of imaginery white butterflies and watch them flowing through my body flapping their wings. Their movement causes a dust up within me as they loosen what I call cosmic debris. This negative energy sticks to their wings and as I breathe out the butterflies are black. They transport the negativity to the universe and are cleansed to a white colour in order to enter with my breath once again. Sounds crazy I know, yet it causes deep physiological changes within my body. Plus it is a focused as I can be.

Slowing our minds and sitting still within a moment is one of the hardest things we can do in life. Rene’ was very good at it. He would just sit. Although he was a news junkie, he was able to shut off and sit with the stillness in his mind. The front deck of our home was one of his most favourite spots. Sitting with a cup of coffee on a summer evening we would watch the world go by. The chestnut tree in the yard hid us from view and we were able to see life happen around us from a detached vantage point. Most conversation was initiated by me of course and our chats ranged from the inane to the mundane. It was through years of conversations like these that I was able to understand the importance of stillness. I certainly couldn’t master it. In reality I couldn’t practice it much. I did learn the importance though. When we slow down and listen to individual thoughts we are able to learn more from the random chaos. My background chatter was just that for Rene’. Background white noise. It was when the chatter stopped that he would tune in. Cindy is quiet. Why?

Through life I have tried a myriad of things. Looking back I realize that most of the time I try to reconcile my mind with my body. I was always a chatterbox, even as a youngster. My mind tried to make sense of the random thoughts and I was too young to understand all of the questions that popped into my head. I chattered because I tried to get it all out. Of course that is impossible as even a still mind can race at a million miles per hour. Speaking is slow and boring in comparison. There is no way to match the acts of speaking and thinking. I turned to reading as a youngster. It filled my head with knowledge and through the years I was able to understand some of the questions that popped into my head. In time, sports and physical activity played a great part in helping my mind slow down. Grade three was my first exposure to track and field. Running, high jump. I loved it. No thinking. Practice and practice and then some more practice. I got better and faster. First place in high jump. Not only did repetition increase my ability, the act itself caused my brain to focus on the task at hand. Junior high and high school found me in team sports as well but the focus wasn’t there. Relying on a group was hard. I had less control on the outcome so I was less committed to the process. For me it was fun. Those years had me completely focused again on track. Hurdles, high jump and long jump. Practice made perfect. Or at least better. Weight lifting through University was also a time of calming the brain through sport. This has continued off and on through to today and I still enjoy the gym. A period in my thirties and fourties found me pursuing martial arts. Kung fu. Truly an art to still the mind although it taught me so much more. Respect, fitness, meditation. Thousands of repetitive moves not only cleared my mind, they created a muscle memory of sorts. Instinctive responses to dangerous moments. Am I a fighting machine? Certainly not. In fact Kung Fu is a defensive practice. Never throw the first punch. Slow forms were practiced as a type of meditation and breathing exercise as well as learning moves in a precise way. The Grandmaster of my temple did not allow competition. With any public performance, forms were changed in order to keep the true art from being shown to those outside of the temple. Today I sometimes practice stick fighting forms in the privacy of my back yard and some basic slow forms. It is akin to tai chi. Yoga has been the most recent love. It has become my one true training form. It is addictive. Having taken a break from classes for a few months I find a depression of sorts settling in. Practicing yoga with others is so fulfilling. The energy from like minded people is uplifting and soothing at the same time. I leave the practices feeling calm and loved.

When I first started University I chose to become a teacher. What I really wanted to do was coach sports so I decided on Phys.Ed. and Math. The math minor decision had a twofold reason. I was good at it and thought it would be easy. I was wrong. On both counts. I also thought it would help me get a job faster after graduation. That part I never found out. After a practicum in the system I decided teaching wasn’t for me. The reasons were numerous so I will leave it at that. Computer science was the next choice and I found the classes and the career were more suited to my personality. I spent a lot of time in school. In the meantime I learned I didn’t need to become a Phys. Ed. teacher in order to coach. Due to the large number of athletic classes I took I was exposed to numerous teaching and coaching styles. The take away through all of the years was simple. Repetition was first and foremost a necessary part of success in any sport or athletic endeavour. As one Kung Fu instructor told me, the moves we made were done to exhaustion so that when needed we would defend ourselves instinctively. Without thought. Basketball games are won or lost on free throws. The free throw starts with the pre shot routine. The routine itself isn’t important. That is personal. What is important is doing the same routine before every throw. Always. In time the move is second nature. Years ago I read a book called “Quantum Golf ” written by Kjell Enhager. I can’t remember most of it but I took away one very important point. Emptying your mind during the swing. Through the years I have played golf my body has learned to swing naturally through repetition. When I address the ball, I breathe in during the backswing and out during the follow through. I also focus on a four syllable chant to match the breathing. This helps me to empty my mind and allow my body to take over the swing. Rene’ always said the biggest obstacle I face on the golf course is my mind. When I control my mind I play well. I try to find silence.

In this fast paced world it is unusual to find people sitting in silence. Coffee shops are filled with people typing away on their laptop computers. Don’t they have homes? With WiFi? Any time people are waiting in lines they are staring at their phones. Walking down the street people are always looking down. Even groups of people waiting for movies to start use their phones to be entertained with on line trivia games. Our attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter as we seek constant stimulation. Not only that, life revolves around recording our lives in pictures for public consumption. We seek out constant entertainment in order to record it for others. Travel is the order of the day. As a child we would take a family summer holiday. Usually one or two weeks away from home. The lake or camping. A visit to relatives. Grandpa and Grandma’s house. Perhaps Disneyland or Hawaii. Now the trips are non stop. Flying off for a few days here there and everywhere. People need to get away from it all quite often. What is it we need to get away from? Our lives? Someone once shared with me an article that said we should create a life we don’t need to escape. Food for thought. I have spent time with friends who were always preparing for their next adventure. Even while having lunch or golfing or while away for the weekend, some people are busy on their phones making plans for the next lunch or golf game or weekend away. While I watch. It is odd to me. Golf courses are now even wiring their golf carts so people can listen to their own music through blue tooth. I don’t even like to ride in a cart so music is very distracting. My daughter Britt once remarked to me that she liked me best when I was golfing. That is when I concentrate most. I walk the course and carry my clubs on my back. I am usually counting off the yardage as I walk. Deciding on the next club. So that is one place I tend to be quiet. Focused. I feel at peace.

Learning to sit in silence is something that is well worth the effort. Wherever we are in our lives we can stop and close our eyes for a few minutes and focus on our breath moving in and out. Clearing our thoughts as much as possible not only has a calming affect on our minds but our bodies benefit as well. Heart rates slow, blood pressure drops. Walking barefoot through the grass in the early morning soothes my soul. Touching flowers. Leaning against a tree. I feel the earth reach out and slow me down. Nature helps to feel silence. She is peace. My nine month old Grandson Atti doesn’t like water. Recently in Hawaii, I sat in the water with him between my legs. The waves rushed up and around us and reached up to his neck at times. He splashed with his hands and laughed as the ocean caressed us both. Melting away stress and pain we both felt nothing but pure bliss. Although there were many children on the beach, as I closed my eyes I heard the silence. Atti and I were in the zone. Call it God. Mother nature. Energy. Whatever. It brought changes in the two of us. I felt as if we were cleansed in a spiritual way. Sometimes we try too hard to control and manipulate every aspect of our lives. Even meditation. I think what I finally learned with the help of sweet Atti Mac is that I don’t need to do anything to find the silence. I just need to open up and let it find me.

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