Day 261: Welcome Home

welcome home copy

When I began this project, it was exactly that: an experiment that the sociologist in me clung to. “How would one’s life change if they dramatically pulled themselves back from the world for an extended period of time? How would they change? How would those around them change? What would they experience during this period? What could they hope to learn?”

Without realizing it, I went into this from a researcher’s perspective and was excited and determined to report what I found. I would go into “the trenches” and see what could be excavated – discover what would happen when we stopped talking to others and delved into our inner psyche for an entire year. When this project began, I religiously took notes about what I was experiencing. I set up a blogging schedule and posted frequently – sharing some of my breakthroughs and insights. I signed with a literary agent and began writing a book about it. I put on my observer’s hat and was fully prepared to share everything that I found.

As I began to dive deeper into the silence, however, this project stopped being a project, and I stopped being a researcher. As I began to slow down, the outward journey slowed and my inner journey sped up. I couldn’t bring myself to write about what I was experiencing while I was experiencing it. I wanted to savor this time and really soak it all up. So my posts became less frequent, and I began to shift away from being the researcher and fully integrated into becoming a participant. Living the silence, experiencing the silence, being the silence took center stage. Silence became more about my own evolution and self-care and less about the experiment itself. All of the external expectations that I was holding onto when I began seemed to fall away, and what I was left with was me.

I hadn’t expected this. Knowing this when I began would have stopped me from even starting. It would’ve felt too deep, too heavy, too much. My soul knows me well enough to know how to ease me in – making it an experiment gave me permission to dive in fully. I wasn’t just doing it for myself – I was doing it to research, to share, to report, to learn.

I now see that it wasn’t about the experiment at all. It was about me getting back to me – however that needed to happen. And here I am. Completely transformed. Completely renewed. In the silence, I have been able to welcome myself back home.

I had been so used to “doing ” and “performing” that it’s taken this much time in solitude to get back to my core and really remember what matters, what I value, and why I’m here.

While I never saw this experiment as a frivolous one, I will admit that when I began I had no idea of the inner strength and groundedness that would emerge as a result of it. It feels as though each month that I’m in silence, I become more firmly rooted to the earth. Before I began, I felt so weak – like a soft breeze could easily blow me over. And now, I feel that I have gently settled into my own being – for the first time ever.

I am learning to lovingly say no. I am learning that I have permission to do whatever I want and to not do whatever I don’t want. I am learning to focus solely on my own happiness and inner peace. For years, I tried to make everyone else happy and ended up making myself miserable (and physically ill) in the process.

I am so grateful to have found myself again – to have remembered myself again. I am so grateful that I said yes to this “silly” whisper from my soul to be silent for an entire year. It’s the best gift that I’ve ever given myself, and it’s a gift that will continue. I’m not sure how long I will continue the silence, but I do know that I’m not even close to being ready to come out. I’m enjoying it too much.

I recently heard Abraham-Hicks say that if it feels good, do it. And if it doesn’t, don’t. That’s become my barometer for everything that I do (and don’t do). I trust that I’ll know if and when it’s time to come out of the silence. For now, I’m having such a great time here that I think I’ll stay awhile. The experiment officially ends at the end of the year, and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen beyond that.

I’m still very excited to write a book about this experience. But I have a feeling that it will be a very different book from the one I originally planned to write. It will be more about the inner journey rather than the outward impact. That’s what matters now, at least to me. That’s what I wish for all of us – to give ourselves permission to have space and time and openness so we can explore and discover who we really are. That’s what the silence has given me, and it’s been an absolute miracle.

Hugs and love,

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Being Okay with Inefficiency

Slow Down

To prepare for my year of silence, I recently checked out several books from the library on this subject. I wanted to see how others have benefited from prolonged silence in their own lives – what lessons they learned, what insights they gleaned, and how they were changed because of it. I guess I wanted to see what I could expect (even though I realize that we’re all different and no two experiences will ever be the same).

So I stacked the pile of books on top of my lap, settled into my extra comfortable couch, had my hot cup of chai tea next to me, my soft blanket on top of me, and I began to read.

And then I noticed something: each time I picked up a book and started reading, my finger would immediately go under the next page to be ready to flip it over when the time came. It didn’t matter that it would be several minutes before I would be ready to turn the page – my finger was prepared. And I found that this little habit achieved two things: 1. It sped up my reading. As silly as it seems, I somehow felt that I didn’t want to keep my finger waiting – that I should hurry up and finish the page in order to be able to turn it. But then the page would turn, and my finger would immediately prepare itself to turn the next page. 2. I wasn’t fully present with the words that I was reading because a large part of me was focused on needing to quickly turn the page.

It was a cycle that went on and on and on. And I started to feel a bit anxious, and I could feel my breathing begin to constrict and my heart begin to speed up. The irony certainly wasn’t lost on me that I was reading a bunch of books about slowing down into life’s natural rhythm.

After taking a few minutes to breathe into this moment, I was able to find the humor in it – the absurdity of it. I realized that I’m so used to overscheduling myself that saving this micro second of time made perfect sense to me in that moment. I’m so used to being in this never-ending cycle of doing and busyness that I’m having to re-learn how to be in the moment and enjoy the moment and not try to rush the moment.

For so many years, I’ve looked at “downtime” as inefficient. I’ve read so many articles featuring lifehacks to help us save time in one way or another. And I’ve clearly taken all of this to heart.

We live in a culture that has sped up so quickly over the last couple of decades that I’m sure we’re all still trying to get our bearings. I’m certainly not immune to wanting to cram as many tasks into my day and fill up every second of time by checking things off.

For years, I prided myself on being the queen of filling up space: “I finished this project five minutes early – that’s just enough time to respond to one more email or check off one more to-do.” When boiling water on the stove, I would bring in my laptop so I could be working while I waited for it. While waiting for one website to load, I would flip to a new tab and start loading another so there wouldn’t be any downtime.

All of this “efficiency” was supposed to improve my life, and I started to wonder why I wasn’t feeling happy. I was actually feeling hurried and rushed and always metaphorically out of breath. I started to wonder whether I was running toward something with all of this hurrying or running away from something. I figured it was most likely a little of both – either of which made me sad because no matter which it it was, I was completely missing the present moment. 

I truly believe that awareness brings change. (It’s hard to change what we just don’t know, right?) And so, here’s what I would like my life to look like moving forward:

I would like to enjoy the process of boiling water. Even though we’ve all heard that a watched pot never boils, I want to watch it anyway. I want to really notice the steam rising off of the water and see the tiny bubbles turn into bigger bubbles.

I want to finish a project five minutes early and spend that five minutes in whatever moment I’m in. I want to look up, look around, and notice – really notice – what’s happening in my world.

I want to enjoy reading and enjoy every word that I read – not thinking about when the page will need to be turned, not hurrying up because I want to get to the end. Just reading and enjoying and allowing myself to be in that moment.

I want to slow down time rather than speed it up. And I have a strong feeling that the way to do this is to be present. Truly present.

Efficiency and lifehacks and timesavers of all kinds have their place, and I’m definitely not saying we should stop using them. But when we feel hurried by them and stressed out because of them, I think it’s a good idea to take a look at that and consciously decide if they are helping or hindering our present moment.

That’s what I’ll be doing. And I encourage you to as well.

Hugs and love,

jodi signature copy

Free Reconnecting with Your Soul Guided Meditation!
I am currently writing a book about what I learned during my year of silence, and I would love to share it with you when it comes out! To sign up to be notified, please enter your name and email below and click on the Subscribe button. You'll also receive my guided meditation for free!