Last week, I set out to complete a challenge which I’d set out for myself a year ago: walk the entirety of the beach from the house where we’re staying on vacation, until its very tip, close to 9 km further.
While it’s not that crazy a distance by any means—I’ve always loved walking—the terrain made it a bit trickier.
When I say “the entirety of the beach”, I actually mean two beaches, separated by a gully. I had realized last year, when walking by at low tide, that it seemed possible to wade across, even if it still meant getting wet.
So, a third of the way into my journey, I did cross the gully on foot. The strength of the current surprised me, and so did the actual depth of the water—the very soft sand made it seem shallower than it really was—but I nonetheless made it to the other side.
While there was definitely an important physical component to this trek of mine, I knew that it would quickly turn into something more. Two hours in pure solitude tends to have that effect on the mind.
EMBRACE THE QUIET
One of the first things that struck me was the fact that I was stuck with several songs in my head—one of which, I’ll fully admit, was the Spiderman theme song. This is what happens when your four-year-old suddenly takes a liking to Peter Parker’s antics.
It struck me that my brain was trying to fill the silence, somehow, and that music was an easy way out. Not that there’s anything wrong with singing to oneself, even in our own mind, but since there was already so much to listen to—the crash of the waves, the cries of the birds, the sound of the wind on the dunes—any other soundtrack was unnecessary.
EMBRACE THE QUIET
My intention for what I’d dubbed my 2016 Beach Trek—I do enjoy a swanky name, can you tell?—was for it to be a walking meditation of sorts. You know what a meditation typically doesn’t contain?
If you’re anything like me, and you may or may not, you might find yourself very ensconced into your thoughts—remembering, analyzing, connecting dots, experimenting with different ways of expressing things—nothing bad per se, but not necessarily mindfully being where you are.
I believe I smiled a bit to myself when I realized what was going on. See, years ago, I might have beaten myself up for not being “present” enough. Or, more likely, I might have rebelled hard against the whole “enjoy the moment” concept, willing any proponent of mindfulness to get out of my damn head! (I’m compliant like that.)
EMBRACE THE QUIET
It’s one thing to get comfortable with our own thoughts—cutting through the incessant mental clutter and chatter. It’s another thing entirely to be able to release these thoughts, as we realize that they are just that: thoughts passing through us, allowing us to voice a certain life experience, but not actually making up who we are.
In a world where we are constantly asked to claim our identity, lest it be imposed on us, consciously choosing to distance ourselves from all that buzz can leave us feeling quite exposed.
Yet we can all benefit from embracing the quiet: it gives us much-needed downtime. We can’t possibly recharge in the midst of chatter and, without a rested mind and soul, our body can’t reach optimal recovery either.
Rather than being your thoughts and emotions,
be the awareness behind them.
It took me several kilometers, on that stretch of beach, to get to the point where I could just be. It wasn’t achieved through strenuous discipline. It wasn’t reached through any spiritual contortion either. I simply—and most importantly very gently—granted myself permission to release it all.
Do you let go and embrace the quiet?