Did you know that there is a direct connection between how much love you have in your life and your mindfulness practice?
In this week’s episode, I’m sharing why more quiet time for you can equal more love in all areas of your life. I’m also going to give you some of my favorite daily practices that will help you create more internal space and expand your mindfulness!
So why am I talking about this? Well, I recently got back from a week-long meditation immersion with my husband Victor, and I can’t wait to tell you all about our experience- what we did, what I discovered and what I got out of it – so that you can use all of this in your own life to cultivate more self-love, more self-compassion, and more peace.
David Ji is an internationally recognized stress-management expert and master meditation teacher. He has helped thousands of people all over the world be more reflective and less reflexive, so they can enhance their relationships, experience abundance and lead purpose-driven lives.
I am lucky enough to have him as a mentor, a teacher, and as a dear friend. When I met him nearly 2 decades ago, I finally learned how to get a dedicated meditation practice going and, if you follow my work, you know that incorporating daily meditation was a very powerful pivot in my own life.
So when Vic and I decided to take time together to connect, Davidji’s meditation retreat in Carlsbad, California was the deep dive into personal and spiritual development that we wanted. That said, I was facing 2 entire days of intentional silence. ME!
Even with a daily meditation practice and being a meditation teacher myself, I felt nervous about being in total silence for that long. Could I do it? If you know me at all, I am a super verbal communicator. I love to talk. That’s why I have a podcast and a YouTube channel! I have a need to be very succinctly understood and I process things out loud as well. During the week-long retreat, we had to be silent from midnight Wednesday night until Friday!
Well, I did it. And it was amazing. So what did I learn?
Words as Protection
Wednesday morning I found myself compelled to do a full face of makeup. Why would anyone do that on a meditation retreat? With the quiet and the space to really contemplate that, I realized that under normal circumstances I use words and my ability to speak accurately and say everything I would like to say at any time as a way to protect myself. I’m pretty much almost never at a loss for words. I was able to make the connection that the makeup gave me a little feeling of protection. It served as a sort of armour in place of the words that are usually there for me.
How about you? Can you think about your relationship to words and to speaking your mind? Do you relate to verbal communication as a kind of protection?
My Side of the Street
The next thing I experienced was a bit of a surprise. I thought it would be super hard not to talk, but what I found was that it was a relief. It felt easy. Instead of feeling like I needed to sort of make sure everyone in the room was OK, I was able to be more reflective and it felt good to just be a witness.
I have come so far from being the codependent that I used to be, but there’s still a part of me with an antenna always up, scanning any room or gathering for others needs. Can you relate? You can protect your energy, but it might be impossible for you to turn off your antenna. So here’s the big takeaway here: because I knew I wouldn’t be interacting with words with people during that set time, it was SO much easier to stay on my side of the street. I could relax into being self-contained. So I was relieved…and it was beautiful.
Raising My Consciousness & Deep Listening in My Relationship
I’ve been a psychotherapist for decades and so, so much of my life is about talking and listening. Especially when it comes to my clients or in my group settings, I am an excellent listener. But what I discovered in silence was that I didn’t know if I’ve been as good a listener with my husband as I’ve been with other people.
I made a conscious effort to observe all of the unnecessary things I would talk about with Vic and I realized a lot of the time, I talk and it’s just filling space or just shooting the shit about nothing (which, don’t get me wrong, I believe can truly be an art form of conversation), but I also knew, deep down, that sometimes, it can be a block.
So when we were talking again, Vic shared with me a dream that he had and some of his deep emotions around it. Instead of doing what I usually do, which would be jumping in to analyze the dream, I consciously chose to ask him just a few expansive questions like, “What else? And, “What do you think it’s about?”…and my husband, who I know better than anyone in the world (and vice versa) told me something about his life in the past that he had never told me before.
Isn’t that amazing? It’s not like he was keeping a secret from me. I probably talked too much for him to ever get in edgewise, you know? For me, this was just a beautiful example of what you can learn when you choose quiet, active listening with a loved one.
I share this because I’m hoping it will help you as well, because what I want in my life is to intimately KNOW the people I love. Yes, I want to be known and seen and heard as well. But what I realized through this profound experience of embracing silence is that there’s SO much more. I got so excited that there was so much more that I could be learning about Vic, my partner in life, my copilot, my one and only that perhaps my compulsion to talk was blocking me from. It felt like a real breakthrough.
Communication Blocks & Behavioral Patterns
As a recovering perfectionist and overfunctioner, I realize that I still have some behavioral patterns that reflect that when it comes to communicating. You don’t always have to have all the answers to everyone’s problems. You don’t always have to add an aside or bring it back to yourself. I learned that a lot of times I still do this, and I would think that what I was doing was making an identification with the other person, like yes, I get you…right? But the thing is, what that actually does in conversation is take the attention off that person and puts it on me. That was a HUGE aha moment.
Do you ever do this? With the space I had to really contemplate my communication patterns, I also realized that I use humor to interject…a lot. I love to laugh and I love a great, well-timed quip or witty remark. I take healthy pride in being quick on my feet that way. That said, there has to be a conscious balance of humor, because if there isn’t, this can really be a block to intimacy and inhabit clear, direct communication.
What a profound experience our week with Daviji was!!!! I am so very grateful. I have returned home more mindful, more open, and more dedicated than ever to creating quiet time in my life.
I have some things that I really want you to try, and they are things I am doing in my own life post-retreat, because I really believe that creating more internal quiet time in your life has the power to expand the love in your life as it has and is doing for me.
Here are some of the tools that I’m using in my mindfulness daily practice and to help me create more conscious connection and better communication:
The 3 Gates
This is an idea that supposedly originated with the Persian poet and Sufi master, Rumi and it is so simple and yet can make an enormous difference: before you speak, let your words pass through “3 Gates”. At each gate is a question. Ask yourself:
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
I want you to imagine (because I have), how much less would be said if everything needed to pass through those gates. How much different would your life be? How much different would your interactions be? How much more space would there be just for being?
If you stop right now and think about how much of the time what you might be saying might not be true, might not be necessary and might not be kind, can you see what a big positive impact this could have?
Another way to look at this is through the Buddha’s noble eightfold path. That is: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
What is right speech? It’s taking the time to be sure whatever you speak is coming from the right place. It’s asking yourself:
Will this add value? Will it do harm?
Another thing that has always impacted me is the work of Don Miguel Ruiz, The 4 Agreements. For our topic today, I think this agreement is quite apt:
Be Impeccable With Your Word
That means you do what you say you’re going to do. This supports having strong, healthy and flexible boundaries in your life, because it means you don’t just say yes to everything you think you should just to avoid an uncomfortable conversation in the short run.
You can commit to speaking truthfully, authentically, honestly and with kindness.
Davidji’s 22-Minute Guided Relaxation Practice
In the 60s and 70s, Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of Harvard’s Mind-Body Medical Institute, did studies on relaxation and the mind. What he discovered is that we have the power to encourage our bodies to relax. It is a scientific, psychological experience, with lasting, proven effects on our mind and body.
Davidji actually took the relaxation response information from this study as well as work by John Kabat Zinn, the modern day father of mindfulness, and created a 22-minute guided relaxation.
Studies done from this particular track proved that doing it for 56 consecutive days actually changed the structure of the brain, shrinking the fear center and increasing the hippocampus where decision-making happens. How cool is that?!
You have the ability to purposefully, intentionally tell your body, your organs to relax by going through this mindfulness experience. I’ve included this FREE resource (and others!) for you in this week’s cheat sheet, and you can download that right here.
The Four by Four Breathing Method
This is a very simple breathing technique that takes mere minutes and can be a reboot for your mood or energy level. If you haven’t watched the video yet, please do so, because I walk you through exactly how to do this. I invite you to set a reminder on your phone and do this quick practice at the end of your day. Try it and see if you don’t have a different internal experience.
I hope this provided you with some real value and that you are ready to make a commitment to strengthening your mindfulness muscle and to embracing getting quiet!
If you loved it, please share it with the people you love. I super appreciate you watching, listening and sharing.
I also want to remind you that the next installment of the Terri Cole Show LIVE on YouTube is coming up on May 23rd at 7 PM EDT! It was super fun last time, so I hope you’ll join us because I’ll be taking your questions LIVE on the air. Click right here to subscribe to my channel so that you’ll get notified and you won’t miss a thing!
I hope you have an amazingly quiet week, and as always, take care of you.