City Silence

About Meditation & Mindfulness

Since the beginning of time, men and women have engaged in contemplative practices to better understand themselves, to be better humans, to find focus and/or faith, and to cultivate the wisdom that comes from the ritual of stillness. 

Meditation and mindfulness, arguably the world’s oldest form of “self care” are now mainstream topics across many sectors, including health and wellness, trauma treatment, education, business and innovation. The research is compelling as well. There is no doubt that meditation, mindfulness, and other contemplative practices “do no harm” and in fact, have been shown to reduce pain and anxiety, while increasing focus and mental agility. 

A group enjoys City Silence.

Here are just a few links. You can find more resources in our Watch, Listen and Learn section. 

Scientific American Cover Story on Meditation
NBC News Story on Meditation in a San Francisco School
FORBES Article on Mindfulness and Employee Productivity/Health
NY TIMES Article on Silicon Valley Execs and downside of digital devices.

While both mindfulness and meditation can be practiced in motion - you can do a walking meditation or be mindful while gardening or doing yoga - City Silence invites you to practice stillness. If you are new to mindfulness and meditation, we invite you to listen to some of our audio guided meditations and/or follow the tips below. 

Every moment that you sit in silence, no matter what your mind is doing, is medicine for your nervous system. Losing and regaining focus on, say, your breath, creates more agility in your brain. So you cannot do it wrong!

Why Silence Matters

  • Mindfulness and meditation reduce stress, increase happiness, focus, productivity, self-awareness, willpower, memory, and health.
  • Meditating even 3 to 5 minutes a day can bring you great benefits in stress reduction and overall health.
  • We take in so much information every day that our nervous system needs time to rest, digest, integrate and balance. Studies show mindfulness can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve sleep.

Mindful Noticing

Do you worry you aren’t going to be able to shut out the world and/or your thoughts? This is perfect for you. Embrace your mind’s curiosity while calming the nervous system.

  • If you are able, close your eyes. If not, set a soft gaze at a spot on the ground in front of you, perhaps noticing shifts in the light as you sit in silence.
  • Begin to notice the sounds you hear. Take approximately a full minute to register the sounds around you.
  • Shift to noticing your breath. Where does it move in your body? There is no right or wrong here. Your job is simply to notice.
  • Can you notice both the sounds you hear and your breath at the same time?
  • Finally, take note of your thoughts. Can you separate the thoughts that are focusing on breath or sounds vs. the thoughts about other things? Just notice them. Don’t try to shift anything.

Mindful Breathing

  • If you are able, close your eyes. If not, set a soft gaze at a spot on the ground in front of you.
  • Notice  where your breath is moving in your body. Do you feel it in your nose, throat, chest, or belly? Do you notice it more on the right or left side?
  • See if you can intend (not force) your breath into the low belly. Mentally coax it there. 
  • See if you can create a steady, even rhythm between the inhale and the exhale, perhaps lengthening the breaths as you go along. You can count along, silently, perhaps trying to inhale on a 4 count and exhale on a 4 count. 
  • If your mind wanders, just take note. Return to your easy study of the breath.
  • When that becomes comfortable for you, you can try a pause at the base of the inhale. So inhale for 4, exhale for 4, then pause for 2. Repeat.

Mindful Body Sensing
This may be easier sitting on a bench or a chair or lying on your back. 

  • If you are able, close your eyes. If not, set a soft gaze at a spot on the ground in front of you.
  • Squeeze the muscles of your feet as hard as you can. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Take at least one long inhale and exhale.
  • Squeeze the muscles of your feet and legs as hard as you can. Hold a few seconds, then release. Breathe.
  • Squeeze feet, legs, buttocks, hips and belly. Hold, release, breathe.
  • Squeeze feet, legs, buttocks, hips, belly, chest and shoulders. Hold, release, breathe.
  • Squeeze the muscles in the entire body, including fists and face. Hold, release, breathe.
  • Notice if sensation has shifted for you. Notice your breath, notice any thoughts or emotions. Notice how you feel.