Isaiah 43:1-3 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
It was a gorgeous day. I had long awaited the events of this day. I would spend time with my friend, and we would share special memories together. Just hours into the day I was exhausted and felt substantial levels of anxiety which led to overwhelm. I often queried why I have this experience particularly with certain people and events.
I have come to realize that the learned and practiced skill of quieting can bring peace and restore joy to our day. We are now happy to be with our friends. I’d like to share what I have learned about the importance of quieting and how we can include this skill in our daily lives.
Have you ever lost the ability to do a job, task or activity temporarily and found yourself saying if I’m not able to do, you fill in the blank, I will go crazy? We probably thought this was just an expression, but life has taught me that this way of thinking is prevalent in America and we as a people measure our worth so frequently by the tasks and activities we do.
Ed Khouri came up with the acronym BEEPS. BEEPS represent Behaviors, Experiences, Events, People and Substances. These are five means in which we can hijack the joy center of our brains. Many of us default to these means when our bodies are in need of quieting since they artificially regulate our feelings. The problem is pseudo-joy always leaves us empty.
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in me.
Chris Coursey in his book Transforming Fellowship says, “According to Allan Shore, respected researcher in neuropsychology from UCLA, the inability to down regulate emotions to rest and up regulate positive emotions to joy leads to the largest risk of developing a mental illness in a lifetime.”
Many of us have grown up in a family or community where “Brain Skill 2-Soothe Myself Simple Quiet: Quieting (Shalom) after both joyful and upsetting emotions is the strongest predictor of life-long mental health”, has not been patterned for us.
Chris Coursey states, “When it comes to relational skills, every generation can only transmit what they learn and use. As skills drop out, generations will spread undesirable traits such as abuse, pain, addiction and distortions. Regardless of intention and determination, we can not give what we do not have. Skill 2 starts to diminish when families or communities do not allow or have not learned to rest.”
So how do we rest? We learn to rest as we quiet (shalom) after both joyful and upsetting events. Dr. Wilder has a series of Shalom my Body exercises he demonstrates on you-tube.
Research has found that the ability to quiet is the strongest predictor of life-long mental health. One of my favorite quieting skills is 4×4 breathing. I quiet by taking a deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold it at the top for 4 seconds, release my breath for 4 seconds, hold it at the bottom for 4 seconds and then I repeat these 4 times. This give me time to refocus and quiet. Try it. You will be surprised how powerful this simple tool is.
Dr Allan Shore explains that the amount of time it takes us to calm down and start to share joy are the two ingredients alone that make up a large factor of what our mental health looks like as we age.
Do we fear slowing down or resist rest states or frequently feel bored or distracted when our health demands a change of activities. Unless we train our brains to quiet, we will find ourselves disconnected in non-relational ways.
Exodus 31:17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He abstained from work and rested.
Rest restores our ability to remain relational and preserves its capacity. How big is our relational capacity? When we look at our ability to rest and quiet, we will be better able to answer this question.
Last evening during a time of quieting I meditated on these scriptures. I encourage you to do the same.
During this time of quieting I sensed God saying, “Joanna, when you walk through the waters, through the river, through the fire I am your Refuge, Stronghold, Peace, Everlasting Rock, Redeemer and Savior.
My response, “Lord you are amazing. Thank you for calming the storms and bringing peace in the midst of trouble. You are so faithful. You never fail us.
What are some ways you quiet? What do you sense Immanuel wants to say to you today?