Silence and Stillness for our Health & Relationships

Posted on August 13, 2012

Feeling frazzled or stressed lately? Many of us are going non-stop all day and it seems our heads barely hit the pillow before it is time to wake up and do it all over again. We may expect the winter holiday season to be a bustling time, but the craziness of summertime can catch us off guard. Especially for families with children, schedules can become so jammed packed with baseball, swim team, soccer conditioning, amusement park crowds, family reunions, and vacations that we say we need a vacation from! For those of us who are a part of church life or a serving community, we can add to the busyness mission trips, youth or family camps, Vacation Bible School… the list goes on! These are good things that are meant to be enjoyable, but are you… enjoying? Would you find your summer to be life giving?

Practicing Silence and Stillness

When we are constantly plugged in to one form of communication or another – balancing emails, work presentations, social media, texting, phone calls, GPS – it is no wonder how easy it is to fly off the handle when our spouse asks for help or the kids want to know “What’s for dinner?” We can quickly hurt others with our words because we are lacking the inner space, peace and strength that can only come from spending time in silence.

Like learning any other skill or exercise, silence takes practice. Although it may not be desirable at first, it is so good for our overall well-being and quality of relationships. Silence leads to self awareness that enables us to better choose how and when we communicate. It gives us opportunity to shift our motivations from the need to compete, impress, or control to a more authentic place of love, trust, and clarity.

Much like restraint may be exercised in order to make healthy meal choices, silence builds our ability to utilize restraint when we feel  overwhelmed and our knee jerk reaction is to lash out. In silence we have the opportunity to rest and trust that as the busy world continues to rush on without us, in this moment we choose not to grasp for control.

In stillness we relax into ourselves and learn to wait for the right timing of things – something that does not come naturally in our instantaneous culture. For these moments, instead of using our energy to try to make things happen the way we want them to, we stop long enough to recognize the beauty around us and what it means to be in this moment in this place. We acknowledge the way we see the Creator of the Universe at work and we reorient ourselves to this center. We find clarity for what actions we really are to take, rather than trying to take on it all.

Balancing Communication and Action

The goal is not to stay in the place of silence in stillness, but to find the balance with engagement with our family, work, and society. We are meant to do meaningful work and have significant relationships. If we stay in silence and stillness, we will miss out on the fullness of life. If we only keep doing and never stop to unplug, the quality of our work, relationships, and personal well-being will be compromised. This can even lead to significant physical and mental health concerns. So, take some time to quietly rest today and come back to what really matters.

For more reading on this topic, see:

Newsweek Magazine, “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?”

Writings of Ruth Haley Barton on Solitude and Sacred Rhythms, such as this article 

Psychology Today, “What is Solitude?” 

If you find that in your times of silence you feel distress, fear, or find it more disturbing than calming and life giving, it may be helpful to see a professional counselor.

 

Written by: Lindsay Gentry, MA, NCC

Lindsay has a Master of Arts degree in Community Counseling from Denver Seminary and is a National Certified Counselor. She sees children, adolescents, young adults and couples as a Resident Counselor at Groff and Associates. To contact Lindsay call 317-474-6448 ext. 117 or email Lindsay@groffandassociates.com.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==