Returning to Quiet

“True happiness is found in seemingly unremarkable things. But to be aware of little, quiet things, you need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be present.”

Eckhart Tolle

I’ve been returning to quiet lately.

About a month back, after several weeks of feeling anxious and unsettled, I decided my morning routine was due for an upgrade. The timing coincided perfectly with Sarah Jenks’ announcement of her #sacredstart program, so I went for it.

I’d built up a morning routine I loved over a few years, and it looked something like this:

Journaling; educational reading; taking a walk for at least a half hour outside, usually with an educational or inspirational podcast; having a healthy breakfast

With Sarah Jenks’ inspiration, my new morning routine looks something like this:

Journaling; educational reading, taking a walk for at least a half hour outside, usually with an educational or inspirational podcast; setting up a beautiful altar with elements from nature; aromatherapy (roll-ons due to cat and a small RV); pulling an inspirational card from my Sacred Garden deck; meditation; a cup of tea with oat milk; sacred reading

The extra elements only add 15-20 minutes to my morning (and yes, some days I wish I had that extra time back, at least a little bit), but they have TRULY made a world of difference in my mood. Anxiety is practically gone. I’m feeling so much more grounded and empowered.

What we experience is our desperate search for happiness where it cannot be found…[the key] was not lost outside ourselves. It was lost inside ourselves. This is where we need to look for it.

Father Thomas Keating

We live in such a busy and demanding world. When we add into it extra stresses, whether it’s facing racism or sexism or homophobia or ableism, whether it’s COVID-19 or bullying co-workers or toxic family or food insecurity, it can feel impossible, or nearly so, to stay grounded or find happiness.

I love this quote, because it reminds me that we can run around the world chasing happiness and still never find it. You won’t find lasting happiness in a bottle of wine or a pint of ice cream. You won’t find it in a night at the movies or a night with a lover. You won’t find it playing with your kid or visiting your parents.

You find it in yourself.

We have to set aside time each day and each week for quiet, for stillness, for going inside and listening to what there is to hear. That’s where you’ll find the inner knowing that tells you the next step in your business, the next step for your family, and the next step for you. If we never get quiet, we’ll never hear it.

Growing up, my favorite book was The Secret Garden. My parents started reading it to me when I was only six, and I connected so much with the young orphan child, feeling out of her element, transported from being the center of attention (at least from servants) to being abandoned and out of her element, to exploring outside and discovering a world of nature and life she’d never known.

I certainly didn’t grow up as a rich, neglected kid in India, but there was something about the journey Mary makes, from selfish and self-centered to an integrated, full and beautiful life with nature and friends and her new and chosen family, that I felt so comforting.

Mary discovers a secret garden that’s been neglected, and it’s not until she does a lot of inner work that she’s able to find the key to it. It’s in doing further work on herself that she eventually finds the door and is able to enter into it.

We all have a secret garden waiting for us. To find the happiness in that garden, we need to make time for quiet and reflection. Grab a journal, spend five minutes in solitude, do a walking meditation. Get quiet, and see what the whispers offer you.

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