Burnout has become an all-too-familiar buzzword among millennials. Research does suggest that this generation is worse off in the workplace than their parents were – millennials are reportedly working more hours but earning less than the baby boomers did at the same stage of life.
Millennials do nearly everything differently than their parents did – from work habits to digitally-driven social lives. A typical day in the life of a member of this generation begins and ends on a smartphone: Mornings are lost sitting in bed checking social media and emails, a habit that often leaves them jumping out of bed at the last minute to rush out the door and start their day. It is also very common for Millennials to work in the gig economy as freelancers. Having the freedom to set their own schedules is one of the perks they’re after; however, that same flexibility can be a source of procrastination and a drain on productivity. This lifestyle is leaving many millennials feeling like they are not as motivated as they would like to be or simply lacking energy, ultimately becoming burnt out.
To manage the damaging effects of stress and anxiety they’ve come to expect in their lives, millennials have turned to personal improvement more than any previous generation. This has led to the creation of a $10 billion self-care industry that encompasses everything from clay face masks to meditation apps. The drive for personal improvement has also made the publishing of productivity books big business for this generation – books in the genre cover everything from How to Avoid Burnout to How to Improve Your Efficiency Throughout the Day. So, how do you sort out the good info from the fads?
Sphere of Silence, written by Vijay Eswaran, contains the perfect productivity hack for owning the day: Eswaran introduces a method of motivating, organizing, and reenergizing yourself on a daily basis, and it is remarkably easy to follow. As Eswaran explains, “the Sphere of Silence is not a practice for someone sitting on a rock contemplating by a lotus pond. It is not for those retiring into a forest, nor for someone who wants to walk the path of Zen.” Rather, the Sphere of Silence is a simple resource for those looking to recharge their day. The book speaks to millennials and their desire to participate in personal improvement. It offers guidelines that emphasize that practicing self-care yields results. Self-care can lower an individual’s risk for depression, burnout and trauma, decrease anxiety, and improve positive body image. Eswaran posits that when you treat your body and mind with kindness, you start to like yourself more. What’s more, when you are kinder to yourself, you realize that you deserve more, which is ultimately what self-care is all about.
The Benefits of One Hour of Silence a Day: The Sphere of Silence
So, what is the Sphere of Silence, and how does it work? Vijay Eswaran has developed a daily routine sourced from a combination of family and historical mindfulness techniques, which he discloses in the book. His practice is unique because, according to Eswaran, “It is not meditation, and it is not a religious practice of any kind. It’s derived from the art of silence I learned from my grandfather at a very young age. My grandfather believed that abstaining from speaking for a set period of time each day brought him inner peace and made him a better listener.”
On the surface, the practice appears to consist of simply devoting one hour every morning (preferably) to silence. However, it is much more purposeful and structured than that. The hour is divided into several parts, each designed to encourage positive action in various aspects of a person’s life. The practice includes goal setting, self-reflection and analysis, reading, writing, and time for the faithful to commune with a higher power. All of this is carried out in complete silence: No cell phones, no music, no disturbance.
During his gap year just after he graduated college, Vijay Eswaran experienced life as a lay monk at a Franciscan monastery in Italy. During his time there he found the monks regularly practiced a vow of silence, especially during lent. As he tried to understand the power of silence more, he discovered over the years that a ritual practice of silence is not unique to any particular religion or culture. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all advocate the practice of silence in one form or another. Historical figures have been known to incorporate silence into their routines. Gandhi is said to have practiced a day of silence once a week, and Nelson Mandela is believed to have observed an hour of quiet each day. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Picasso preferred to work in silence. Looking back, it seems that almost every industry leader, artist, or politician has prioritized time spent in silence. Though it was not specifically through the Sphere of Silence method, they still chose to work within the silence that made them who they are.
Silence and Success
Eswaran has been applying the Sphere of Silence for most of his life and attributes his success to his continued practice: “I find that practicing the [Sphere of Silence] is the ultimate weapon against the assault on our senses and the insanity that prevails around us today. To many, it may seem that no quiet could exist amidst the din and racket of an ever-blaring world.” He has also incorporated the method into his global business network by encouraging associates to use it in order to begin the day with more focus, energy, and motivation. Eswaran is hoping, that by sharing the practice of Sphere of Silence with a wider audience, he can help transform the lives of thousands of people and help them to revitalize their day-to-day.
Eswaran spells out the objective of this process— It is designed to help us question and challenge the standards in our lives that we have accepted and grown accustomed to. He feels we have allowed ourselves to fall into a trap by letting our habits dictate our destiny. It starts with our thoughts and progresses into words. “From word to deed, then deed to habit, habit to character, and character to destiny.” Using the Sphere of Silence can be a productivity life hack that allows us to break the routines that trap us from the start. If thought is responsible for creating our destiny, then minding our patterns of thought is essential to creating meaningful change in our lives.
Three Steps to Strengthen Your Mind
The process hinges on retreating into oneself daily for 60 minutes in complete silence. There are three steps, or as Eswaran calls them, “paths,” that make up the sphere of silence: The “Path of Duty,” the Path of Knowledge,” and the “Path of Devotion.” These three facets make up a process that supports a healthy and fit mind. Each of the three steps is performed within a specific time frame and is subdivided into goal setting, analyzing your actions from the previous day, and focusing on improving short-term memory.
Path of Duty (30 Minutes) – Use the first 10 minutes to set goals for the day, the next 10 minutes to assesses progress made on the goals set the day before and and the final 10 minutes to chalk out new goals for the future. It is important to acknowledge and note down why certain goals were not met, during the assessment. The events of tomorrow develop from what you intend today. One cannot structure today without knowing why or how yesterday happened. Hence, understanding yesterday is the key to tomorrow.
Path of Knowledge (20 Minutes) – Use the first 10 minutes to read a book of your choice. This cannot be a book of fiction. Pick a book that can help you enrich your knowledge. Use the second segment of 10 minutes to write a summary of what you just read. This not only helps you absorb and understand the text; this process helps build short-term memory, which is an important requisite in any quest for success.
Path of Devotion (10 Minutes) – The final 10 minutes are key to the grounding process. Use this time to commune with a higher power (if you believe in God), or the Universe – whichever one prefers philosophically. This is purely personal, and the practice does not try to define or dictate how the process works.
Eswaran believes that the most important thing in life is to seek the truth, and the best way to seek the truth is through cultivating intentional thoughts, speech, and actions. “Practice this for 21 days, and it will become a habit. The silence and introspection make you a better you because it helps you channel your energies to maximum effect, and being a better you makes you better at everything you do.”
The Purpose of The Sphere of Silence
Specialists agree that self-care has less to do with the specific activity you choose to practice than it does with the function of the activity. Eswaran explains that there are three essential questions we have to ask ourselves every day: First, who are we? Or rather, who have we become? Second, where are we today, and how did we get here? And finally, where are we going and why?
The reason it is important to ask yourself these questions every day is that the answers will change gradually over time. By simply asking and analyzing the answers to these questions in silence, you can build up your mind’s inner strength and purpose. This process of continual reflection keeps us in touch with reality and acts to deepen our thoughts and focus our vision, which in turn imbues our actions with resolve and intention. Eswaran notes that practicing this self-care for the mind also results in more versatile, nuanced vocabulary for speech and writing.
“We have grown accustomed to creating a barrier between who we are and who we want the world to perceive us to be. We walk around with this facade until we start assuming the roles we create. This masquerade becomes more real than the truth of who we once were – and invariably the overwhelming resistance we would need to face and overcome. To some, starting the practice of the Sphere of Silence would literally be the hardest thing to do.”
When applying this process, it is not necessary to have a specific objective in mind. The simple process of practicing this personal improvement technique every day is enough to create meaningful change in your efforts to recharge your day. The effort and process are more important than any result. It is in trying every day that the true result is acquired. There is no proper time or place to apply the process; the important thing is to practice every day, like breathing. “Eventually, there are people who, without trying very hard – simply by virtue of their being – manage to achieve being in the Sphere of Silence for an hour every day. They actually gain from the process. The trying is fundamental to the change.”
For the generation brought up on instant gratification, a “life hack” centered around an hour of silence every morning may seem like too much; however, the nearly endless list of proven benefits that quiet contemplation bears on the body and mind is too valuable to ignore. From less stress and anxiety to more creativity, clarity, and productivity, there is obviously more to the Sphere of Silence than there seems.
Life Changing Silence
The very process of being in the Sphere of Silence pushes you out of your comfort zone, which is how one grows. It challenges you to push your perception and evaluate areas in your life which are stagnating. Miraculously, by practicing self-care and personal improvement, you can actually elevate yourself to become more humane and humanitarian. By looking within, an individual becomes more aware of the people around them, of the community in which they live, and of the interconnected nature of humanity as a whole. The ultimate way to change who we are is by instigating change within ourselves, which motivates us to help others. By gradually raising your standards every day, you can become a natural leader, but if you drop them to match the expectations of peers, you will instead be led by others every day. The ideas and concepts behind the Sphere of Silence have proven successful throughout the ages. There is little doubt that this method will enhance your life by boosting your productivity, increasing your energy, and improving your mental health. This disciplined routine can absolutely help you own your day!
Vijay Eswaran is a Malaysian entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the QI Group of Companies, a multi-business conglomerate with headquarters in Hong Kong, offices in more than 25 countries, and customers in over 100 countries. He was listed on Forbes’ top 50 wealthiest Malaysians and listed in Forbes Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy. Eswaran is also a bestselling author.