Sixty Second SILENCE

Just a Minute to Halt the Headlong Hurtling.
How long is a minute? Yes, sixty seconds I know, and one sixtieth of an hour.
But what’s it worth? After all, how many minutes have you frittered away today already?
It’s the amount of time I allow to calm and centre myself before the work I do as a freelance media trainer, helping people who might end up on TV or radio say what they want to say into a camera or microphone and avoid saying what they never wanted to say in the first place.
Thing is, often the journey to our training session involves a rush and a flurry. Usually we’ve come from different places and we all carry lots of baggage and several conversations in our heads most of the time.
I’ve found a minute of silence, of stillness, provides an ideal gap to put those things down, to clean the slate. Broadcast media works in blocks of time so it’s good to experience the unit of a minute and, in a group that was burbling with greetings over coffee, I’m often amazed at the stillness that descends during that short time. At the end of just sixty seconds, when we’re ‘back in the room’, everyone’s much more able to focus on the matter in hand, often with a new unity of purpose.
But it’s not just for the training candidates. As this particular minute starts, responsible for running the day, I can feel my pounding pulse and breathing start to slow. ‘Be Still My Beating Heart’ is my inner whisper. I’ve never taken my blood pressure then but I bet it falls during that time. And without that minute’s ‘Pause for Poise’ I know I plunge headlong into the day’s work with far less calm and order.
I guess it’s not for nothing that people say, ‘take a few deep breaths’ when everything seems to be running out of control. And I wonder how much better the world would be if we did properly pause before saying some of the things that come out of our mouths in the heat of the moment.
Our training days finish with another minute’s silence, some hours later. A chance to recall the helpful things and ditch anything superfluous, and to pick up the baggage we set down at the beginning of the day. It always seems a long time since that earlier minute and very often some of the things that seemed so pressing and aggravating no longer seem so important after all.
So I’m a fan of pausing for a minute to put things into perspective, to momentarily halt the headlong hurtling of our lives, to centre and allow ourselves to hear whisperings from within or from on high.
It’s not meditation with a capital M but if you’re not used to it, or when the tyranny of the urgent threatens to overwhelm, just sixty seconds of stillness might be a good place to start; after all, how long’s a minute?
Ali Hutchison is a freelance media trainer and student at Leeds College of Art where she’s working on