Thursday, September 12, 2019

Cultiving Quiet


In the summer issue of Bella Grace magazine there is an article on this very subject, and reading it really struck a chord with me, primarily because of all the ways the author mentioned that our world if filled with noise. It should come as no surprise, that there are a million and one things vying for our attention, but I know that for me its easy to forget that just because something is good, doesn't necessarily mean it is best. Social Media, podcasts, TED talks, the latest box office hit, even the conversation of friends meeting for lunch in a crowded cafe, none of these things are bad in and of themselves, but together and when filling the hours, days and weeks of our lives, it can become overwhelming, at least it is for me. Any time that I start to feel that unrest in my soul, I know that it's time for to step away and spend some time alone.

But I was reminded of something when reading this article, and that is that what I do in that time is just as important to re-centering my soul, as taking the time to do it. I spoke this in my previous post, The Pursuit of Pleasure, when we discussed the important of setting aside time for pursuing the things that you love. But I think it is also important to make space for quiet. Being an avid learner, I spend a lot of time reading books, blogs, or listening to podcasts, I thrive on learning more about the things that interest me. But after reading this article, I realized that there are times when I need to mentally rest my mind, and not fill it with more knowledge and information, even if its good.

Here's are a few questions the author asked;

How much do I swipe?
How much do I click?
How much am I looking outward instead of inward?
Though I enjoy my creative time online,
I am aware of potential excess;
I am aware of the potential noise;

"I am aware of the choice I have to get quiet."

She goes on to explain that quiet takes many forms, such as stepping away for awhile, perhaps an hour or a day or more, from social media.  It might mean not listening to the radio and just driving to your destination in complete quiet. It might mean saying no to a friend who invites you to join them at a concert. Again, there is nothing wrong with ANY of these things.  Life is all about balance, but anything we engage in excessively, whether we realize it, or not, is  taking away from other areas of our lives, quiet being one.

The author goes on to say:

"In getting quiet, and saying no to the excess, I say yes to family, friends, hobbies, spirituality, health, and more. I make the choice to tend what lays at my feet and within my heart and, in doing so, I creat opportunities to be intentional . . . and quiet."

Being an introvert, when I need quiet it usually does not involve people, but as I mentioned earlier, it looks different for everyone. The author lists some ideas for cultivating quiet, such as. . . .

- Writing in a journal
Sometimes it helps to quiet the noise and thoughts in our head just by getting it all out and down on paper.

- Getting outside
This is one of the ways that I intentionally seek out quiet in my life.  I feel closer to God in nature than anywhere else. It immediately sets my soul at rest. 

- Limiting screen time
I think this is an area where we all get sucked into the "noise". It is so easy to log into Facebook, "just for a few minutes" and before you know it, its been an hour, or more, and now your mind is filled with a million thoughts and emotions. 

Earlier this year when I realized the effect that social media had on my spirit and internal peace, I made the hard but necessary decision to unfollow close to a hundred people and pages, and I also changed my settings so that the only thing that shows up in my feed is my family, close friends and a few select pages. It has made a huge difference, not only in my spirit, but it has also reduced the amount of time I spend at these sites because I have less vying for my attention. 

At the end of the article there is a place where you can think through what quiet looks like for you and some things you can do to cultivate quiet in your life. She goes on to suggest that you sit down with a calendar and be intentional about setting aside some time.  Another thing you could do is to challenge yourself to set aside fifteen minutes a day for "quiet", and engage in short activities that you enjoy usher quiet and peace.  Each day you do it, you could note what you did in a few words on the calendar, and at the end of the month you'll be able to see how much you were able to dedicate to the pursuit of quiet. The magazine actually provides a calendar to plan your time, or to document what you did, but if you don't have a copy, you can easily use a calendar that you have at home, or you could even make one or print one from the internet, just Google "September Calendar", or whatever month you like, and then start being intentional about filling it up!  By the end of the month you should feel mentally and emotionally rested and centered!

Until then, friends, peace be with you!

No comments: