Last winter, I moved to Westchester into a home on two acres of land next to the Hudson River.
At first, the quiet was terrifying. I had moved from New York City, after all. I was accustomed to the sound of sirens, taxis honking, loud trucks loading trash at 6 AM, the apartment below blaring music, and people shouting New York obscenities from the sidewalks eleven stories down.
When I first moved to the city I wasn’t sure I could meditate. So many distractions, such big city energy, and so much noise could be disconcerting.
I learned to allow all sound and energy into my practice and not resist it. In just a short time, I could meditate through anything. In fact, I came to find serenity in the hum of one of the world’s busiest metropolises.
So when I moved to silence—except for an occasional chugging Metro North train’s forlorn call and the bubbling sound of our new aquarium—I felt uncomfortable.
I felt especially uneasy when I looked out the windows and saw the pitch black of night instead of a skyline of lights twinkling back at me.
I felt disquieted and restless, which surprised me because for many years I went on long silent meditation retreat in the mountains.
Since we moved in the winter, my fiancée and I made fires every night either in our pit outside while we watched the sun set over the frozen river or in our living room. We drank lots of warming tea and I started taking baths again.
We took walks past a rippling stream to the school bus to pick up Sam, passing groups of deer, foxes, giant black squirrels, and flocks of wild turkeys.
I continued to meditate everyday and found myself becoming absorbed much more quickly than ever before. Soon, I found myself setting the timer for longer than my normal 30 minutes.
When I opened my eyes afterwards, I felt the buzz of the silence all around me. The air wavered and the light shined more brightly. I looked out the window and felt my energy enmeshing with the deep roots of the trees.
The hush of snowfall surrounded me. Never a winter person, I was astonished to realize I felt soothed by each inch that blanketed the ground. It made me feel serene.
I craved more vegetables, superfoods, and sustaining soups full of dark greens and legumes. I made smoothies every morning. I desired to get back to yoga. I started working out 5 days a week.
Don’t get me wrong, I still had stress. Helping to take care of my new soon-to-be-step-son overturned my life. There were meals to make, errands to run, homework to supervise, and getting-to-bed routines to maintain. And I still had work to focus on.
But everything I needed to do was happening much more peacefully. I was astonished at how my surroundings were grounding me.
Here’s a list of super fast and easy ways to create peaceful-aliveness. They may seem trite and overly simple but ultimately they make ALL the difference in experiencing serenity:
1.) Find nature. Be in it as much as you can or find it outside your window. Use the energy and presence of trees to ground you. Find water to sit by and allow a release. Search for flowers and leaves and critters to raise your frequency.
2.) Seek silence. Turn off the news, TV, social media, YouTube, podcasts, etc. Find a room that is the quietest to spend some time in every day, even a bathroom.
3.) Experience the elements. Use fire (incense, candles, sage, fire pits, etc.), water (drink, bathe, steam, shower, wash, and moisturize face/neck/body), earth (sit, walk, rest with trees, yoga, eat healthy, feel your feet, ground in meditation,) and air (deep breathing, the focus of breath in meditation, fresh air outside, etc.)
4.) Eat sustaining foods that keep you light and give you energy. Eating heavy processed foods, sugar, and flour can really mess with your sense of ease and vitality. (I’ve found that out recently.)
5.) Be physical. Stretch. Work out. Get your endorphins releasing—it’s a great natural high.
6.) Spend time with your beloved enjoying the silence together without needing to gab or do anything.
7.) Meditate and, at the end of each meditation, open your eyes and look around and state inwardly everything you are grateful for.
8.) As stress arises ask yourself in each moment, “How might I experience this with peace? How might I be the most gentle and tender in this moment for someone else or with myself? How might I choose a gentle way of holding it?”
Wishing you grounding, centering, focus and health!