Some of my friends and acquaintances tell me that they are sensitive to loud music. When music is too loud they find ways to quiet themselves. This can include putting on headphones that either block out the noise or play music that is more calming, wear earplugs to mute the sounds around them, or simply walk away from the situation and change their surroundings. In a similar vein, here are a few ideas I use to help quiet myself so I can hear what is happening inside of me:
Close my eyes and breathe: This might sound incredibly simple, but the discipline takes effort. When I feel overwhelmed, I find a way to take space for myself (even around others), close my eyes, and take a breath. I like taking five breaths of equal-length inhale and exhale. If you do not like closing your eyes, look at something across the room that doesn’t move or blur your vision. This can have a similar effect as closing your eyes.
Repeat a phrase/mantra/text: Sometimes when I’m stressed or going through a challenging activity, I recite a few words to myself as I breathe. These words are representative of thoughts, ideas, and beliefs I value that help regulate my mood and emotional wellbeing. When I feel regulated, I am better able to listen to myself and seek more deeply what is happening internally and emotionally.
Change the atmosphere: Another way I am able to calm myself is by changing my surroundings. This may mean I take a walk outside or close the door of my office and listen to calming music. When the environment I am in shifts to something more soothing and relaxing, I am able to clear out what is happening emotionally and mentally and make space for what is happening inside of me.
As I practice these techniques, I am able to quiet myself and listen to the music of my heart. I am then able to hear what is happening for me and then take action to care for myself. Take time today to find ways to listen to the music of your heart.
Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.
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