Quiet moments when I shut out the world, and live!

Sophie Ngugi
Posted May 7, 2010 from Kenya

As I was reading a book by one of my favourite authors, Paulo Coelho’s like a flowing river one paragraph really struck me. As he is describing quiet moments spent in some village, ‘I never think about who I am, I have no questions and no answers, I live entirely in the present moment………at the moment am not interested in what is going on in Iraq or Afghanistan; like anyone else..’(page 2-3) How often do we take the quiet times from the very busy lives?

A few weeks ago I felt in a bad space, and amidst moments of feeling fatigued running up and down busy as a bee, feelings of betrayal and uncertainty I felt that my body was literally without any fuel to run another day. This was a warning bell and this time I went to a quiet retreat centre for a weekend and what a lovely, refreshing time!! The centre offers an ideal quiet place, without a phone or laptop, I set out for this refuelling experience and I wished I could have more! It ended too quickly. I had forgotten the power of quiet moments, having not done this in a while. The venue was ideal in that everyone there is on contemplative mode hence after reporting and getting booked in the only ‘talking’ that happens is singing during the mass service, nothing more, no greetings over lunch hour or good mornings! The 2 days gave me so much strength that as I look back I wonder how I would have survived another week without the refuelling. Many times we are so busy with life, putting off fires and ‘saving the world’ that we forget ourselves, I have been a victim of this more often than not.

I share my experiences of quiet time since they are the most blessed moments yet very rare. It is easy to organise for a party with friends and family and rave for hours as a way of releasing the pressures within that we find ourselves in. For those of us who are social and talkative it’s even harder, life is good when we are surrounded by people, talking, being merry. However taking time ‘away from life’ is the greatest replenishment that we can give our lives. The first day I planned to spend 3 quiet days it was more of a group activity than a personal commitment, and I wondered how this would end. This was back in college and I had never wanted to engage in the retreats but since this was part of the group’s expectations I was eager for this. Still, I kept wondering how I would survive three days without speaking! Shouting! Singing loudly and finding out how my friends were doing! The fact that I was with some of my very close friends made it seem even worse. The first day was difficult and I spent most of it sleeping but by the second day I was so alert, tranquil and wondered why I had taken this long to discover the peace there is in silence. The moments spent end up being such loud and clear communication with self. By the time these 3 days ended, I was so sure I needed more of the ‘me time’ often enough.

Hover, as usual... too busy we get! In mid (last month) April, I realised that I needed to shut down, and be with me! There are several things I do often when am feeling low, writing, reading books (and buying them) are part of my leisure. However sometimes, this doesn’t help, the inside still feels disconnected. I remember setting out for this tranquil place in Karen Nairobi and leaving my phone (which I am addicted to) deactivating my face book (yes...you guessed right, I am a life member!), now with a laptop (so I can survive without internet!) and only carried the few essential clothing, a bible and a note book, and off I went. By the time I finished the 2 days it felt like I had been in a holiday for a month, more energy, more optimistic and more in love with myself. I still had music in my heart, tranquil, not noisy.

Many times we feel that we have to be in touch with the world, not realising that the earth will still rotate in its orbit without our assistance, life will go on even if we don’t know what is happening in all corners of the world. In the current world we are living in, life rotates around work traffic, friends’ weddings, funerals, internet, news…barely is there a break. My beloved Kenya in particular is an exciting place to be in! There is always something interesting happening, some breaking news. Right now we are in the constitution making moment and life can get so crazy, it literally seems like living a drama. There is always some ‘urgent work’ to be done whether at the work place or in the home. In between these moments, we have to take a step back, take a break, and just be with you. It’s rewarding. Being alone, is not being lonely; you can be lonely in a crowd. Quiet moments help one to listen to one-elf, appreciate nature and be alert. Spending time with yourself doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you. Instead it means that you enjoy your own thoughts, learning about who you are and engaging in recreation that doesn't include everyone else.

Take a break, and be with you!

Comments 2

  • Pooja Agrawal
    May 07, 2010
    May 07, 2010

    You are absolutely right sophie.. sometimes, we feel so alone though we are in a crowd and i love to spend tiime wid my self. living with yourself gives a chance to know more about one self. our life is so busy these days that we d dont have time for ourself and always in a hurry to do something or other.

    i think all of us should comtemplate on this and start giving time for them self.It will feel good. Try every one !

    Love Pooza

  • JaniceW
    May 07, 2010
    May 07, 2010

    Sophie, Thank you for reminding us of the importance of spending time alone with your soul and listening to yourself. Our recent issue of the print magazine spoke to this very topic, under the headline "What's the Point of the Revolution if We Can't Dance". They looked at how activists, in particular, are great at taking care of others and have created a culture of self-sacrifice but risk burning out in the process.

    "We have to change the culture of activism and heal ourselves, so that we can begin to heal others. When this cultural shift takes hold, our movement will become truly unstoppable."

    You can read the full article at: http://www.worldpulse.com/magazine/articles/whats-the-point-of-the-revol...

    Your post is a poignant reminder of how we must take care of ourselves in order to create a sustainable path for activism. Thank you and wishing you some quiet moments today and every day, Janice

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