By Coach Delisa Deavenport, MBA, CPC
“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” – Francis Bacon. Think about that for a minute. It is a powerful statement and “Silence” is the topic I will be covering today.
Do you mindfully practice quiet?
Do you take time out of each day to go somewhere peaceful and calming, close your eyes and clear your mind? If you have ever spent time in quiet, you know how rejuvenating it is. I did not know this was even a thing until September 2003. I was reading from a daily reader one morning and I read “In quietness and confidence, we get our strength”. I remember being puzzled after reading this statement. I was right dab in the middle of my unmanaged anxiety disorder and assumed that fighting to be strong and loudly confident was the best way to handling my anxiety. I would boldly defend myself to others even if my actions did not make sense – and not in a humble way. I had a picture in my head, that success looked like a loud, audacious person confidently putting everyone in their place no matter what, never admitting wrongdoing. Do you know someone like this?
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What is this quietness you speak of, I asked the daily reader, out loud, as if it was going to answer me back. I felt like I really might be onto something with this quietness concept. Clearly, this bold, arrogant way of presenting myself has only been creating more drama in my life. In no way was it helping ease any anxiety that was running my life and making me incredibly unhappy. I did not know what or how to work this idea of quietness.
Getting still and being quiet seemed like a waste of time. I just sat there waiting for some miracle to happen. I did not know to relax and surrender to the quiet. It actually took me a while to figure out how to successfully use quiet to gain strength and even longer to use quiet to gain insight and intuition. Practice and intention are key to practicing effective quiet time. I started with meditation and nature.
Goines and Hagler report that noise pollution is a modern plague and I would have to agree with them. They claim that this noise pollution, which are all the sounds in the environment, threaten your health, both medically and socially. Think about it. So many sounds from machines, transportation, equipment motors, music, construction, technology, and people. This noise pollution is especially prevalent in the city. Noise pollution can cause high blood pressure problems, stress, hearing loss, interferes with sleep, concentration, communication, and even recreation.
When looking into the effects of noise pollution, I considered the fact that some people seem to tune out noise. Westman and Walters report in their research that nonauditory is impossible. It is not possible to turn off hearing, not even when you are asleep. You may not be focusing on the noise, but you can still hear it and it is still a stimulus. Your hearing is directly tied to your emotions. Your body is designed to activate the “fight or flight” response system of your autonomic nervous system. Those of us with anxiety disorder know all about the fight or flight response because this exact response system in our bodies is a little miss-wired, yeah you know what I mean. One minute you are sitting in a recliner enjoying your favorite comedy or movie on the Tely and BOOM! Your heart speeds up, you can’t catch your breath, your chest feels tight and you begin to get a little dizzy – for absolutely no reason at all. You worry that you may be having a heart attack.
It is so interesting how everything is tied together when we talk about anxiety and being overstimulated and needing mindful quiet time. We must be on the right track here in our discussion of needing silence. Westman goes on to explain that your human auditory system was designed to “process the frequencies and intensities relevant to survival in the sound environment of nature”. Full circle. There is my favorite word – nature. Most who know me, know that nature is my go-to source for finding calm. When you combine mindful quietness and nature together – you receive a gift from God himself. Magic happens. Your body restores and comes back into a state of peace where joy is a true gift. It makes sense. Up until just a few short years ago, mankind spent the vast majority outside in nature.
Because, in my opinion, I am talking about using silence to overcome health problems, I want to shift to another kind of noise pollution and that is sensory overload – a type of mental noise pollution. In today’s fast-paced world, we are confronted with crowds, clutter, noise, technology, odors, sight, and even our own thoughts, that seem to race all day and even into our sleeping hours. In this era of instant gratification, we continue to make things smaller and faster so we can gather more crap in our world to get more stuff done at even faster speeds. Then we sit back amongst all our stuff and have a panic attack.
I relate to Shapiro, Psychology Today explains sensory overload. Stimulation winds you up and when you keep high levels of stimulation in your life, you stay wound up. You physically suffer from muscle tension, jaw clenching, shallow breathing or even holding your breath, and digestive problems among other health issues. As your anxiety grows, you become more alert. You feel as if something is wrong, but you don’t know what that is. You feel as if you need to be ready to do something even though you have no idea what that something is. But you are ready, alert and all, for whatever that something is when you do figure it out.
When you think about it, this whole cycle doesn’t make sense, but we sure put a lot of energy into it. I don’t know about you, but I actually perform much better when I am not prepared for disaster, when I am not on alert. When I don’t have time to let fear cripple me and put all the terrible scenarios and potential consequences in my mind, I seem to jump right in and do what needs to be done without considering all the things that can go wrong.
During a period of healing silence, negativity is replaced with inspiration. You use self-talk to replenish your love tank. Suzanne Kane tells us that in mindfulness introspection, you allow grace to saturate you and renew your spirit. It is during quiet times that the important things in your life come to surface outweighing all the negativity going on in your rushed overstimulated life. When you reflect on what really matters most, you realize your potential and gain a sense of respectful confidence.
Erlacher makes some valuable points, in her blog, pointing out that people, who do not know how or are not comfortable with being alone, are incapable of having a nurturing, healthy relationship. Some people long for the connectedness of relationships because they fear being alone, but they stop short of developing relationship skills because they do not take alone time to tune in to their inner self. These are people who have a date set up as soon as their former partner walks out the door. They do not take the time to be alone and go through the process of healing; understanding what they are made of and the life lesson(s) in this life event.
Because we live in a world with sensory overload, many people are just plain uncomfortable being alone, especially without the distractions of technology. In today’s world of confronting complex problems, you need to step away and clear your mind, but for some reason, so many of us attribute stepping away and getting quiet to being unproductive and wasting time. This belief could not be further from the truth. You spend 100% of your time with your self. You can’t say that about anyone or anything else in this world. It only makes sense that you should set aside time each day to be alone with yourself in quiet without the distractions and in an environment that you can listen to what your heart and intuition are telling you, therein lies the truth. Henri Nouwen has a quote that says, “Solitude is very different from a time-out from our busy lives. Solitude is the very ground from which community grows. Whenever we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend quiet time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are potentially opened for a deeper intimacy with each other”. I love this. It is such a powerful thought.
I ask you to take some time out of each and every day to find your direction in your quiet. Give yourself an opportunity to take a vacation from noise pollution and sensory overload and to touch base with “yourself”. Whether you take a walk in a quiet environment, meditate or do some mindful breathing exercises, your body will respond, and you will notice a big difference. If you continue this gift on a daily basis, the rewards your body will show you will be remarkable. In addition, you may notice and begin to develop a keen sense of intuition. Life may bring you opportunities you never dreamed of having.
Borreli, Lizette. (2016, September 2). 5 Health Benefits of Being Silent for Your Mind and Body. Medical Daily. Retrieved from https://www.medicaldaily.com/5-health-benefits-being-silent-your-mind-and-body-396934
Erlacher, Jolene. (2017, May 16). Why We Need Silence. Leadingtomorrow.org. Retrieved from https://www.leadingtomorrow.org/blog/archives/05-2017
Goines, Lisa & Hagler, Louis. (2007). Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague. Southern Medical Journal. 100. 287-94. 10.1097/SMJ.
Kane, Suzanna. (2018, June 5). 7 Reasons Why You Need Quiet Time. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/blog/7-reasons-why-you-need-quiet-time/
Shapiro, Alison Bonds. (2011, November 3. Anxiety: A Modern Plague. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/healing-possibility/201111/anxiety-modern-plague
Westman, J. C., & Walters, J. R. (1981). Noise and stress: a comprehensive approach. Environmental health perspectives, 41, 291-309.
Delisa Deavenport, MBA, CPC .