I’m thinking a lot about quiet right now. It seems to keep popping up.
In the book Present Over Perfect, which I’m currently reading, Shauna Niequist talks a lot about how necessary it has become for her to find a quiet place away from the busy to relax and recharge. I think we all need a place like that. A place where we can connect with ourselves, with nature and with God.
I’m doing a reading plan in my Bible app by Rick Warren titled “Hearing the Voice of God” and my reading yesterday was called “Make Time to Be Quiet.” In it he talks about Susana Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley and many more children (I’ve seen different numbers – 18 or 19, I think). He says that according to her biography, she would sit in her favorite rocker and throw her apron over her head for an hour every day. That was the signal that mom was having quiet time with God and wasn’t to be disturbed.
A facebook friend shared a lifehack article in the last day or so about an experiment with mice in which those who had two hours of quiet time – silence, actually – in their day actually showed growth in the hippocampus, which is associated with emotions, memory, and learning. I was thinking about how it’s never really quiet in this world we live in. We have to seek it out. Except when there’s a power outage.
Have you ever noticed how quiet it is when the power goes out? Probably not until it comes back on and everything starts making noise again. My mother-in-law tells the story of she and one of the kids spending time together during a power outage – which, where she lived at the time in the north Georgia mountains, can be lengthy – and talking, reading by fire- and candlelight, enjoying something they’d cooked on the woodstove, just being together in the quiet. When the power came back on, with the lights and the radio and whatever else had been in use when it went out, it was jarring and he looked at her and asked if they could turn it all off again. Our world is so bright and noisy. Even just the hum of the electricity in the lines, which you don’t notice until it’s been off for a while.
I wonder sometimes, and would like someone to research (in case I don’t get around to it) whether the constant din wears on our psyches. I have to wonder, when the world is filled with constant artificial noise and we have to suppress our fight or flight instincts just to function in it, so we’re not always on high alert, if that suppression of those necessary reactions might be the reason for the extraordinary amount of depression and anxiety in our society. That we push down those reactions so much and so frequently as to not be able to feel other important things like joy, hope, peace. I wonder if maybe half the psychotropics that are so ubiquitously prescribed could be replaced with just a few minutes a day of intentional silence.
How about it? Do you make an effort to find peace in our noisy world? How do you do it? Feel free to leave a comment.