Why Dead Air Is Necessary
February 2, 2016
How many times have you felt your stomach drop because of the sound of dead air on your radio station? I remember when "Uptown Funk" was a power playing every hour, I would have a mini panic attack each time I heard the line "Stop... wait a minute," with a microsecond of silence in the middle. I'd be in the middle of a phone call or conversation and immediately think "Oh God! We're off the Air!"
Interestingly, while radio's habit of filling space with as much noise as possible was beneficial for many years, we eventually came to a point as an industry where our focus was on "cutting out the clutter." Most stations are using fewer overproduced sweepers filled with "zips and zaps" in favor of cleaner, dead segues. The intention was to let the music "breathe" a little.
Yet, we refuse to take a moment to slow down and breathe in our day to day life.
We live in a culture where we have a compulsive need to be on the go 24/7. How many times has someone asked you how you are, and you answer "I'm so busy!" as if it's some kind of badge of honor? It's as if we think that staying in the office 50+ hours a week before going home and spending the evening doing more work by email somehow proves our value. What's worse is that this isn't just a need to prove our worth to our bosses, it's often a tool to build our own sense of self-worth.
And while your work ethic may be the reason you got that shiny, new, title you have been dreaming about, we have seen studies from the Gallup Organization that show "successful" people seem to be quietly suffering, feeling overworked, overstressed, and overtired. Only 1 in 3 Americans claim to be engaged with their job. So even though our bank balance and social media likes tell us we are doing well, there is a disconnect.
So if you are among the 66% of workers who can't answer that your life is "very happy," isn't now a good time to try something new? Can you take 20 minutes to turn the phone off, put the laptop away, and go somewhere you can be alone, sit in stillness, and appreciate the "dead air?"
Many people resist the idea of a meditation practice because the mere thought of forcing oneself to think about nothing is enough to cause anxiety. However, look at this definition of stillness, as written by Brene Brown:
Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it's about creating a clearing. It's opening an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel, think, dream, and question.
In radio, keeping the radio station "clutter-free" is a seen as a positive. Yet, in our personal life, we tell ourselves we don't have the time to be still.
Herein lies the real issue. We think keeping ourselves busy will keep us out in front of confronting our feelings of fear, fatigue, and overwhelm. The irony is that staying "busy" is what further perpetuates feeling worn down and anxious.
So with that in mind, I invite you to join me on a 7 Days of Stillness Challenge. If the thought of sitting cross-legged in meditation is too "woo woo" for you, that's fine. Is there a park, a lake, or some peaceful place that you can drive to and be in nature for a bit? The goal is to get away from life's distractions and be alone with your thoughts for 20 minutes every day.
If this is a new concept for you, this practice will initially make you uncomfortable. You might even experience a wave of negative feelings. That's ok. Allow yourself to feel them rather than numb out with our usual prescription of overeating, drinking, social media, and Netflix binges.
What's amazing is that in these moments of stillness, you will actually find movement. Your intuition, operating without the constant text and Instagram alerts, will start what I call "the download." You will actually find clarity on the issues that are causing you the most stress. You will instinctively begin to understand the right action plan to take.
Try this practice for 7 days and just observe how you feel. You should notice a greater sense of relaxation, clarity, and an ability to overcome the "paralysis by analysis" that can cripple you from taking bold action in your life!
If you notice a difference and want to find more info on how to reimagine your life in 2016, click here for more info on a special group coaching experience to help you make this the best year of your life!