Just Chill, Be Still: A Single Tool to Greater Joy

By Dr. Heidi S. Lepper, Ph.D.

For many of us the path to greater positivity and daily joy is blocked by old hurts, bad memories, emotional wounds...scripts in our minds that get pulled out time and again. While 'therapy' works for many, most people do not seek it out but instead do seek out websites like this one or other writings like mine. In order to use fully the information you glean on the ways of self change and improvement, you are going to have to heal the old and make use of the new by learning to chill, be still. The information you take in then can have an impact and then the joy and success you desire will become a daily reality. But how exactly do I do that, you ask?

Just chill, be still, I answer.

First consider the physical body (I refer to the physical body a lot in my writings as analogies to our inner self). In order for your body to heal a wound, a break, a sickness, some breech in it's system, the body needs to be still, it needs to rest. You know this! A broken bone has to be set and then casted for a minimum of six weeks for the area around the break to lace back together. Without the cast the bone would still be used (and exceedingly painful!), and while it would eventually heal over a much longer time period, the two sides would not match up well enough for later full function, range of motion, and comfort. And so we set a break and cast it so the bone is immobilized and the healing can take place. We force the bone to 'just chill, be still.'

Many athletes themselves struggle with this concept. They beg for medical advances and interventions that will heal quickly an injury so they do not have to rest as long for deep fear that such rest will take away from their athletic success. Many push the limit of their bodies attempting to do as much with as they can with as little rest as possible. But the paradox is that in order to become a better, stronger, more powerful competitor, the physical body needs rest! A lack of trust in this fundamental paradox nags at athletes so they cut short the time in which they are asked to rest, they cheat a bit their bodies, and overall cannot tolerate the rest. Time and again these athletes continue to nurse chronic injuries or re-injure themselves just one event or one season later. And yet there are many books written about athletes who took the time to heal came back stronger and more powerful. The rest worked!

Most of us are not athletes, however, but we are all workers of some form, students at some point, we are wives and mothers, husbands and fathers, friends and individuals. And not a human on Earth will raise his or her hand and say I want to be miserable each and every day! The base commonality among each of us as humans is that we do desire to wake each day with energy and motivation, well-being and health. For many Americans though the concept of 'rest' carries a negative connotation. Those who seemingly never rest feel superior to those who do, and those who do may at times feel inferior wondering why they are not more motivated to work harder!

Rest for many also means taking some grand vacation, getting away from it all! Vacations though often do not refuel us in the way we expect. Some research shows that people are more satisfied before the vacation than they are after it. The anticipation of it builds, the 'rest' occurs, and then come back and NOTHING has changed. In part because a 'chill' factor did not really occur on the vacation. I am confident you know where I am going with this: In our lives today, with vast technology and the mind numbing speed at which things change, the loss of family supports and long working hours, the activities we feel compelled to layer on, above, under and through our other activities (especially for our kids!), we think we have NO TIME to just chill, be still. But you do, you really do, for this is a process of emotional or mental casting that like the casting of a broken bone will only require weeks to take place. And the form of rest I am going to teach is one that is quite different.

So let's start right now: Close your lips yet open your jaw just slightly. Now 'float your tongue' in the middle of your mouth not letting it touch the sides, the top, the bottom or the back of your mouth. Hold this 'floating tongue'.

Go ahead, try it now, I will wait... ...Keep floating your tongue while you read on. This is a technique that will serve to slow down ever so slightly your inner talk, your negative inner banter, your hyper-cognitive state that is so fueled by life today. Keep floating!

When we humans are not eating, drinking or actually talking, the backs of our tongues are generally pushed down or up inside our mouth. And the tongue itself outside of our conscious awareness is engaged in very fine motor movements that are forming the words of their thoughts (known as subvocal articulation).

Once we become fully verbal in our native language sometime around the age of three we begin to engage in engage in inner speech...you talk to yourself ALL DAY LONG! Developmentally after the age of becoming a verbal individual the form, quality and quantity of those thoughts change year after year. And for that vast majority of us this inner talk is highly negative, self-defeating, narcissistic, defensive, limiting, intolerant and so on. We cannot take in all the information about how to live a more joyous and productive life because we have not turned down/turned off this negative inner banter (and indeed most of us have a hard time even hearing it and recognizing it!).

Are you still floating your tongue? Good. So what this is doing is pulling your tongue up and away from the back of your mouth essentially limiting its movement. For that time in which you are floating your tongue you are engaged in mini-form of casting your thoughts! You are slowing them down, you are chilling and stilling your thoughts! This is a very cool process! And it works! All you need to do is set reminders to float your tongue several times a day for several moments each time. Especially when you are quiet, say when you are going to sleep, driving alone in the car, washing the dishes etc. And also whenever you are engaged in conversation with another and it that person's time to speak. Float your tongue!

You can step out of your life for a bit in a way that is easier than you ever imagined! No need for anything other than to float your tongue many times a day every day from here on out. You can slow down in this very private way every day with the trusted knowledge that just floating your tongue in a matter of weeks will indeed begin to settle you down, give you rest from your own thoughts. It is then that the changes you have been trying to make (let's guess it's to feel more motivated, or less anger, or less depressed or anxious, more appreciative) will occur when you allow for this some rest. And for those of you who live a faith filled life, I will remind you: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14) Now float your tongue.

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