Getting Past the Noise—The Value of Silence

We’ve been talking about taking every thought into obedience to Christ SEE Are You Scatterbrained?.
This week, I’d like to delve into it more by considering the need for silence.

An interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates argued that serious thinkers and writers should get off Twitter.
It wasn’t a critique of the social medium; it was the call to get beyond the noise.
Coates states, “Generating good ideas and quality work requires something all too rare in modern life: quiet.”

Recent studies are showing silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to our complex environments.
“Physician Luciano Bernardi found two-minutes of silence inserted between musical pieces proved more stabilizing to cardiovascular and respiratory systems than even the music categorized as ‘relaxing.’”

A 2013 study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, based on a survey of 43,000 workers, concluded “the disadvantages of noise and distraction associated with open office plans outweighed anticipated, but still unproven, benefits like increasing morale and productivity boosts from the unplanned interactions.”

Research shows silence helps your health by…
-Lowering blood pressure (whereas chronically noisy environment will increase heart rate and blood pressure).
-Improving concentration and focus.
-Calming racing thoughts.
-Stimulating brain growth [Duke Medical School’s Imke Kirstes found silence is associated with development of new cells in the hippocampus (key brain region associated with learning and memory.)]
-Reducing cortisol. (Increased cortisol can lead to weight gain, feelings of overwhelm, difficulties sleeping, and chronic diseases).
-Stimulating creativity.
-Improving insomnia (meaning helping sleep better).
-Encouraging mindfulness (being “present” in the moment).

Yet most Americans (even Christians) have their television on ALL THE TIME— some say, “for background noise.”
What’s the first thing you do when you get in the car? Select music.
Even our churches hinder quiet.
Many churches have blaring music before the service. How does that help you meet God?

When we camped, I was amazed at how many people “shared” their music with us.
I wanted to hear the birds and waves and nature—isn’t that why we go camping? (This was before all the ear buds.)

How many people listen to something while they walk or run or exercise?
So they don’t hear their body telling them all its aches and pains…

Which brings me back to that concept of “taking every thought into obedience to Christ.”
It’s a moment by moment discipline.

Another author shared her process on how to concentrate better and get that “quiet.” 

She describes a “Sphere of Silence” which was encouraged by her grandfather who would rise every morning and not speak to anyone while he sat for an hour. “This forces you to declutter your thought process. . . . Being silent allowed us to channel our energies. It gives us the clarity we need to calmly face challenges and uncertainty.”

She practiced this “Sphere of Silence” and found it boosted her productivity and calm for the stresses of her day.

She took 30 minutes. The first 10 minutes, she read a chapter of a book.
The second 10 minutes she summarized what she read, writing it down. (By the time a book was finished, she had engaged in “an extra layer of processing, allowing for deeper retention and analyses and strengthening your short-term memory.”
The final 10 minutes she gave for you to decide. But admonishes to be present and to think about what you are feeling and what you just read.

She says, “When you practice the “Sphere of Silence” without a break for 21 days, you will notice changes in how you perceive the world, begin to acquire an intense inside into everything you do, and find a greater sense of balance.”

The Bible tells us the same thing.
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted in the nations.  Psalms 46:10.

It’s where Elijah heard God’s voice—In the silence.

Isn’t it in those moments of silence our souls—after trying to fill it with everything the world offers, recognizes we are not enough?
And that’s where God meets us with His presence and His peace.

Think how different our perspective could be if we concentrated on God all day every day!

How do we get that silence?

The author of one article states, “Real sustained silence, the kind that facilitates clears and creative thinking, quiets inner chatter as well as outer.”

“When we’re constantly fixated on the verbal agenda—what to say next, what to write next, what to tweet next—it’s tough to make room for truly different perspectives or radically new ideas. It’s hard to drop into deeper modes of listening and attention. And it’s in those deeper modes of attention that truly novel ideas are found.”

What does the world suggest for this silence?
Take a silent afternoon in nature.

“…ditch the phone and go for a simple two-or-three hour jaunt in nature.” They added, Henry David Thoreau went to the woods for a reason.

Go on a media fast.
“The world is getting louder. But silence is still accessible—it just takes commitment and creativity to cultivate it."

“Though an absence of sound may suggest emptiness,” one author says, “you may discover that dialing down the noise offers surprising fulness of body, mind and spirit.”

When even the world is recognizing the danger of so much noise, can we as Christians ignore it?

But not just for it's own sake, but for considering God and His Word.

Silence—it’s what our soul craves for both body and soul.
Take time and be silent.

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I write about what you---
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               Sonya Contreras

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