As a yoga teacher-turned-psychologist, I’ve always been amazed at the overlap between psychology and yoga, specifically in mindfulness and in silence. One yogic practice that I find fantastic as a psychologist is intentional and compassionate silence. Whether you are in a relationship or currently single and living alone, you might feel some sort of pressure to always answer the phone, constantly make small talk with a partner, or always have “something interesting” to say. Intentional silence is a great way to combat this pressure, and can just be a fun way to deepen your relationships and play around with nonverbal communication!
Intentional and compassionate silence is time you and your partner will hold, or you will hold for yourself, to be intentionally quiet. Here are some guidelines for defining a period of silence!
- Be Intentional: Intentional and compassionate silence is just that: intentional! This allotted time should not be a time when you happen to be quiet, but when you choose to be quiet
- Have a Gameplan: Define how long your intentional quiet will last: 10 minutes, 10 hours, or some time in between? Decide before you begin, and communicate clearly with your partner.
- Define Rules: Establish what rules you will follow. Will physical contact be allowed? How about non verbal hand gestures? You could even consider creating a music schedule: who will be in charge of music?
- WFH: Consider how you will take work calls if you work from home. Will you designate a specific room or space for such calls?
- Enjoy Yourself! How will you use this silent time? Journaling, watching TV, or practicing mindfulness are all great ways to spend intentional silence, so choose to spend this time how you want to!
If you are living alone, it is vital to remember that this quiet is designated and chosen by you! It can feel quite different to have quiet time where you are deliberately not answering phone calls, as opposed to having quiet time because no one happens to be calling. Remember that taking care of yourself is important: you are not responsible for being constantly available to other people, because they might assume you have no other obligations. It’s okay to have an obligation to yourself! Take this time of quiet to hold space for yourself.
Remember to know and define your own boundaries. Intentional silence might feel uncomfortable at times, but you are in control of setting your own ground rules, and defining what this time will look like for you. Once you can set your boundaries and define your ground rules, you will be able to relax into the silence. I hope you can use these guidelines as a way to jumpstart your own plans for intentional and compassionate silence, and use the time as a way to relieve pressure and take care of yourself!