what is quiet?
For those of us with anxiety, we often mistake quiet for silence. These are two very different states. Silence is when you are alone. You become aware of every little noise. Some noises you recognize and decide in this moment they are irritating. Other noises are surprisingly, just now getting your attention. The noise in the wall when the downstairs bathroom heater is on. I have never noticed that before. Nor have I ever realized that the filter in the air purifier rattles just a touch, downstairs in the living room. More often than not, my anxiety rises during these times of silence. It is a lonely atmosphere and I begin to experience just enough fear to make me uncomfortable. Sometimes when I am alone in the house I the evening, this silence creeps up on me and I begin to wonder if someone is lurking outside my window.
When anxiety decides to play tricks on me, I learned a long time ago, that getting quiet is my best go to solution. Quiet is nurturing. Quiet is mindful. When you close your eyes and concentrate on relaxing, focusing on relaxing each part of your physical body, you are counteracting anxiety. Maybe it does not always work textbook, but, believe me, your anxiety would have gotten worse and maybe even given you an anxiety attack otherwise. During mindful quiet, every time you start to think about your fears, chores, problems or even your negative feelings, you are easing out of mindful quiet. I like to picture myself waiting for God to speak to me through powerful, unmistakable intuition. But I cannot hear my true intuition unless my body is free of negative feelings or thoughts. I get still, quiet, relaxed and wait for His instructions. They are usually simple instructions.
“All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” - Blaise Pascal.
quiet resets the body
Another purpose for mindful quiet is resetting the physical chemicals in your body. You have heard of the fight or flight response? It is an interesting topic when you read how this phenomenal process works as related to people with anxiety. Anxiety is chemical. Why the chemicals in those of us with anxiety react differently is still a mystery. Our body does not always get the accurate message of when it is time to worry and get fearful. Nevertheless, it is not something we can just switch off. We can, however, learn to “think” our way out of the fight or flight response and mindful quiet is the quickest, healthiest way. I often take this mindful quiet to the next level through meditation or guided visualization.
nature naturally calms
When we get quiet, we shut out all of the noise that our daily lives provide. Not only physical noise, but mental noise as well. When I have anxiety, I crave nature. I always have even when I was a little girl. In nature, the noises of life are not visible, nor can I hear its reminders. I focus my mind on trees, wildlife and flowers. I feel like I am back to the basics. A coworker once told me that I clearly am a person who likes to stop and smell the roses. Nature gives me a sense of gratitude, an appreciation for God’s beauty and a quick vacation from the business of life. Only recently have I discovered that there is actually a science behind it. In the book, “Earthing”, the authors explain how physically touching the earth actually causes a grounding affect using the earth’s energy. Awesome!
“Silence is like a river of grace inviting us to leap unafraid into its beckoning depths. It is dark and mysterious in the waters of grace. Yet in the silent darkness, we are given new eyes. In the heart of the divine, we can see more clearly who we are. We are renewed and cleansed in this river of silence.” - Macrina Wiederkehr.
connecting to your inner voice
After you have practiced mindful quiet for a while, a truly amazing thing happens. You develop the ability to recognize when your inner voice is telling you something important. Have you ever carefully thought out a decision, weighing out all the pros and cons but still had a feeling in your gut that you should not go forward? Sometimes, nothing bad happens (that you know of). Other times, you tell yourself that you had a gut feeling even though everything checked out great. In mindful quiet, you connect with your inner voice. Over the last few years, I have honed my inner voice, my intuition or God talking to me. I have honed my inner voice well enough that it tells me things even when I am not in mindful quiet. ly inner voice NEVER works when I am high anxiety.
listening to others
If you asked my family if I am a good listener, they would begin laughing. It may be my anxiety but when someone was talking to me, I clearly was waiting for “my turn”. I wanted to tell my story. Almost always, my story was forgotten before the person left the room. When I finally changed this bad habit and learned to truly listen, I found that it is a form of mindful quiet. In most cases, it is a learning opportunity. In all cases, it takes the focus off of you and thereby minimizes any anxiety you are feeling. It is cathartic. It is a mindful act and if you suffer from anxiety, it takes practice.
Many years my friend, many years....