The Skill of Quieting

As I write this, I wonder if you knew that being able to quiet yourself is a skill. Not only a skill, but a relational skill! When you “quiet” yourself it releases serotonin in your brain. This is a “feel good” chemical that has a lot to do with how you function: your mood, your sleep, your digestion, learning, memory…. I would say it’s a good thing to have!

Quieting is learning to rest and calm yourself so that then you can fill yourself with more joy. It is recharging yourself, resetting your mind. A more technical definition is that it is the ability to calm your mind and body after intense nervous system activity. Interestingly enough you need to quiet yourself not just from tension or busyness but from joy itself. We cannot keep performing well at high levels of emotions. Babies will quiet themselves instinctively. They will be happy and delighted being with you but when the emotion becomes too much they will look away, calm down, and then be ready to engage again.

Quieting is the number one factor in mental health. It is a foundational skill that increases our capacity for life and for joy.

When you have developed the skill of quieting then you will be able to recognize when you, or others, need to take a breather. But, like all skills, it needs to be developed–which means practicing ways to quiet. Life can be very busy, tensions can build up, we lose focus, or start being impatient with other people. Ah, time to quiet.

So, some ideas of how to grow the skill of quieting.

One simple thing to do is–breathe deeply! Wow! The benefits!!! Just google it. I won’t go into all the details of what happens in the body and your nervous system. But it definitely is the first step I would recommend to quiet yourself. One of the simplest exercises is “boxed” breathing. That is breathing in deeply for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, breathing out for 4 seconds, and holding for 4 seconds. Try it for three minutes. But if that is too hard–do it for 30 seconds! You have to start somewhere. ?

Sometimes I find it difficult when I start this exercise to hold my breath for four seconds. When this happens I realized that I was feeling anxious or upset–or something. So I learned to just slow down and breathe deeply until I can do it.

I have never been good at the relaxing exercises I’ve seen people recommend forever. Where you concentrate on different parts of your body and try to relax each one. By the time I’ve gotten part way, I’ve started to tense up again. Ah well, each to his own.

One of the interesting facts I discovered was something called “email apnea”. It seems that in a study that was done 80% of the people held their breath or did shallow breathing when they were answering email or texting. WARNING! WARNING! Be aware the next time you are doing email or sending a text! Breathe!

Last year I was researching a lot of things about relational circuits and how they work. One set of exercises I came across is called “Shalom My Body“. I recommend that you click on that link and watch the short video because these exercises are much more quickly understood if you see them in action. But I use all of them from time to time.

There are other ways to quiet yourself as you become more aware. Some people go for a walk. Other people, and this might be especially the case for some children, need to go and spend a few minutes doing vigorous exercise to burn off some energy before they can actually quiet themselves.

What you do not want to do is look for artificial ways of quieting. Social media isn’t it! Sometimes we take breaks that do not help us quiet at all. Be aware!

Sometimes when I feel tense I quote Scripture, or review Scripture verses. For me it is a very enjoyable exercise, if I’m not trying to cover a certain number! So many things can be positive or negative.

There is a lot more to be said about it. If you have more interest you can check the website of THRIVE Today. This was my main source of information. And here is a webinar on The Hidden Gem of Quieting. It’s about an hour but is well worth the time and goes into more detail than what I am writing here.

I will leave you with this verse, a long standing favorite of mine.

We do need to be aware of our bodies and our minds as we seek to walk in the ways of peace. We do need to train in the ways of peace. Quieting is one of those skills that will bear fruit. As our nervous system is calmed our minds can be much more focused to be in tune with the Lord. Sometimes we think it is all spiritual. But we have bodies that were designed specifically by our Creator to work in certain ways. Discoveries in brain science over the past couple of decades help us see and understand what is happening and why it is happening. It is exciting!

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