WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE QUIET: PART 1
In this week’s post on Yogibanker, I welcome a guest contribution from Yogibanker partner Stephen Marks. Stephen shares a similar background to me: A partner at an established City law firm, now turned ‘wellness professional’, practicing in yoga, meditation and yoga nidra. Stephen is also an expert on healthy buildings, being the founder of ‘Mind Body Buildings‘. I’m very happy to share with you some of his recent content as published in Business Healthy, about why its important to be quiet from time to time and how it can affect and influence our wellbeing.
It also represents the first in a series of posts about the importance of solitude and quiet time. Having spent some time recently away myself, I can only stress the importance of what it means to take some time out and reflect on things from both a mental and spiritual perspective.
‘Be quiet. It’s good for you’.
Business Healthy, 20th August, 2018.
“Having spent twenty years in a law firm, Stephen Marks is now a yoga, meditation and Yoga Nidra practitioner. Stephen has helped to institute two wellness programmes in leading London law firms and has also worked with global accountancy practices and advertising agencies. In this blog post, Stephen explains the value of silence and its benefits to wellbeing.”
During my 20 years as a City lawyer, there were a few simple wellness practices I used to help me get through a stressful day. Some will be familiar to you already but I can assure you; they all work.
Sometimes, all you have to do is breathe! It’s amazing how powerful the breath is but most people are unaware of its ability to lower our blood pressure, reduce heart rate and positively affect the nervous system. Slowing the breath and using the abdomen can have a quick and beneficial result. It always surprises me how many people can’t use their abdomen to breathe when I teach yoga at offices. I tell people to put their hand on their stomach and feel it fill like a balloon while counting to four (not forgetting, of course, to exhale to a count of four also!) Next time you see someone angry or stressed, just notice how they breathe fast, shallow breaths from their chest. Now look at how slowly and deeply someone calm and relaxed breathes. The breath is a great tool to calm you.
The Physical Importance of Silence
How about some real quiet time? There’s something almost contrary about silence to the accelerating pace of today’s world. It is as if periods of solitude and silence are viewed as odd. But now science could confirm what most of us intuitively felt already – that periods of meditation can be good for us. Periods of silence can actually cause cell development in the area of the brain called the Hippocampus – which is responsible for our memory.
One way of staying silent is through meditation. There are many ways to try this fantastic practice – whether with apps and online guided meditations, or by many courses now readily available. It can be a marvellous way to relax and is actually described by some of the leaders in this field as an act of kindness to yourself. So how about checking in with yourself for a change? With all the connectivity to everyone through our phones, devices and screens, how about checking who is on this end of this line? In the process, you may just feel yourself relax and take a small step back from the intensity of some situations. Next time you are on the receiving end of an unwarranted ear-bashing, you might just see it as someone else’s issue. A ten-minute daily practice, regularly undertaken, can make a huge difference.
The Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle
We are all familiar with the concept that sitting down all day can be as harmful as smoking. A sedentary lifestyle can pose a serious risk to health. Movement is therefore increasingly important. But the body can be a place we ignore and sometimes barely inhabit. The simplicity of some basic yoga poses done regularly can ease the hips, lower back, tight hamstrings or “telephone neck”. Although you might think hard exercise is enough – the chances are it won’t get rid of that ache that builds up in your upper back. Yoga is particularly good at freeing up tension and will also relax you too. It also teaches you to listen to your body.
And so, to the last suggestion, a mindfulness technique; mindful listening. I know that sometimes in the workplace we can feel like we are juggling many balls in the air at one time. It can feel incredibly overwhelming. When it comes to conversations however, there is nothing worse than talking to a distracted and unengaged colleague. So try some mindful listening. See if you can be a bit more present by totally listening and focusing on the conversation, rather than ticking off your to-do list in your head. You will get more out of the exchange and the chances are – so will your colleague!”