Quiet-Mind Time

Are you intimidated by the thought of meditation or contemplation? Think it's too hard for you, or that the benefits aren't worth the time spent?

I used to think that way. It seemed kind of weird to sit down and try to quiet my mind. And it was really difficult, so why bother?

Over the last 15 years, though, I gradually came around to realizing the wisdom of this simple practice. At the very least, I began to see that taking a few minutes out of my day for some gentle meditation soothed my soul. These days, I've made it a habit to take some quiet time for myself daily. I find that it:
  • Recharges my creativity;
  • Allows me to reconnect with my inner wisdom;
  • Clears my thinking;
  • Allows me to de-stress at the end of a tough day;
  • Gives me a fresh perspective on a situation;
  • Quiets any anxiety I might have;
  • And helps me hear Spirit's guidance in my life.
Quiet time doesn't necessarily mean that we need to spend an hour in formal meditation. I think the tales of Buddhist monks meditating for hours every day have scared more than a few people away from this practice. Prayer, contemplation, watching a rainstorm, sitting in a park, and even relaxing to music can quiet our minds, too.

I compared notes with some of my spiritually-minded friends and found that we all have different ways of getting to that quiet-mind state. One friend, a photographer, finds that spending time hiking in nature does the trick for him. Another contends that running is her way of quieting her mind. When she runs, somehow the rhythm of the activity puts her in a stress-free, peaceful mental zone. Another friend achieves a meditative-like state by taking a 30 minute walk during her lunch break. While walking, she focuses on seeing the beauty around her and her mind calms down.

While I do practice a formal or structured meditation almost daily, I also find that I can achieve a quiet-mind state at other times too, although not in the same way as my friends. For me, the act of working on a new oil painting often puts me into a meditative state. Hiking or other physical activity doesn't seem to help me -- my mind is often too busy at ferreting out solutions to daily problems when I hike -- but put a paintbrush in my hand and my mind quiets down beautifully.

This quiet mind state happened recently while working on this painting:

It's big --  3 ft by 4 ft -- and at first all of that blank canvas intimidated me. But I stepped up to the easel, grabbed a brush, and within minutes I was "in the zone." That zone is my quiet-mind state where the work is effortless and little to no thought intrudes. It's simply my hand holding a brush, paint, and canvas. The painting simply flowed. 

For me, painting can be a form of meditation.

Do you take time to quiet your mind? What works for you? How or when do you get "in the zone?" Have you noticed any benefits?

All content copyright Nancy Rynes, 2015. Please read disclaimer and Legal Notes here.