What if I told you 20 minutes a day is all it would take to radically change your life? A simple daily habit of taking quiet time allows us to find our path away from the quicksand of life and into moments of insight. It is those flashes of brilliance that separate the successful from the want-to-be. Taking quiet time is a three-part technique that was used by people like Henry Ford, Einstein, and Emerson. I have used it myself every day for the last 25 years. First is relaxation, second is finding stillness, and third is mental imagery. Some of you may already practice yoga, tai chi, meditation, or some other discipline that aims at achieving spiritual and health improvement. Taking quiet time does not have those aims. It is purely a system of problem solving. Its aim is to find your path away from the quicksand of life. It does not slow down the brain, but instead releases those 100 billion neurons to work un-distracted at their natural pace.
Here is the nine-step technique I recommend:
Taking quiet time must be a technique you practice alone. You might currently enjoy meditating with a friend, partner, or group, but with this second step you must be alone. We are aiming to return to the nothingness of the newborn individual, and that requires you to separate from the powerful energy of other people's thoughts and intentions. Solitude is essential.
2. Early in the day
Because our days are filled with sensory input right up until we fall asleep at night, this process is best undertaken early after waking. Where and when possible, it should be among the first things we do after waking. Quietness is only achievable while our minds are not yet fully awake, and we can tap into the inherent stillness of the dawn hours.
3. Silent, comfortable space
Choose as silent a place as you can find, one away from as many interrupting sounds as possible. There are always distracting sounds, including internal ones, so don't stress about it. Wherever that place is for you, try to make it comfortable so you look forward to being there every morning. Think minimalist here. A chair, a cushion, or a sofa in a corner of a room is fine. If you have a room with a window that looks out onto something natural like a tree, you are golden.
Sit comfortably. Don't lie down, because at that time in the morning, it is too easy to fall back to sleep. It sounds like an oxymoron, but we need to focus on nothing. For that, we need to be awake enough to control our thoughts. It doesn't matter how you position your legs so long as you are comfortable. It is what we do with our mind that counts, so all we aim for with the body is to get it relaxed and comfortable so it does not interrupt us for the next 20 minutes with aches and pains. I like to place my hands touching together in my lap. Feet can be apart but resting in contact with the floor. It is simply a relaxed sitting position.
5. Energy cleansing
It can help if you clear the energy around you before you start. If you had unpleasant dreams or feel weary, rub the palms of your hands vigorously together until you can feel the heat energy being exchanged between them. Place a palm on each side of your forehead and drag your hands down your cheeks. Shake your hands as if air-drying them. Do this three times. Repeat for the crown of your head three times. Then cross your arms and brush your hands over the opposite shoulders and upper arms.
Your eyes can be open or closed, but I find closed easier for concentration. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, do so with a sigh. Making a sound here helps concentration, and it feels good. Repeat a few times until you feel nicely relaxed. Now, sit as still as you can. Breathe normally, and let your mind become aware of your body in the chair. Take your concentration to your feet, legs, torso, head, and arms like a probe. Tell each part of your body to relax. Imagine your face and head, your spine, your heart, and your stomach relaxing. You start to feel as limp as a rag doll. It is a good feeling. Keep the quietness.
7. Connect with the ground
Once you feel more relaxed, it helps to imagine yourself connected to the Earth. It reduces some of the chatter in your head. Simply spend a few seconds taking your awareness down to your feet. Imagine roots growing from the soles of your feet and down through the floor, through the walls, into the foundation, down into the soil, and farther down toward the Earth's core.
8. Follow the breath
When you feel relaxed, it is time to distract your left brain. The goal is to think of nothing. Focus on your normal breathing -- in and out. Follow it with your imagination as it goes in through the nose, curling into the lungs, and back out. Keep stillness. Try to do nothing but follow the breathing. Counting in and out is fine. Breathe normally. Do this for around 10 to 20 minutes. If you are like most people, you follow your breath a few times, and then suddenly realize that your mind has drifted back to some everyday thought. Don't fret. Just smile and refocus on your breath. Get stillness back. Taking quiet time works in ways we don't need to understand, so just enjoy this wonderful personal time.
Open your eyes. Smile. Stretch. Thank yourself for this gift of a few minutes of peace. You deserve it. You just took 2 percent of your day for you. When you take quiet time every day, you may not even realize that you achieved a few moments of stillness. Because it is nothingness, it is impossible for a human to notice. They can be nanoseconds in duration. Rest assured that many times during the exercise you regressed to nothingness, and new neural networks were fired up.
This rewiring of the brain is vital. The new networks have none of the old learned patterns of behavior. You are free to decide how to live for yourself. You are relearning how to be an individual again. They have none of the damage caused by negative impressions from media or people, so they have unlimited potential so long as you use mentality control to keep them that way. In the weeks, months, and years ahead, you will build such a large reservoir of this nothingness that the rewiring builds its own momentum. Nanoseconds may even grow to seconds, and you will wonder where you just disappeared to. Keep in mind that the aim is not to stop thinking for 20 minutes. Only mystics can achieve that. Attempt to take quiet time daily, nothing more.
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