A regular dose of silence and quietness is necessary for peace of mind. At least that’s what all the self-care and mindfulness material out there will say. But actually attaining a practice of stillness is no easy feat. If it were as easy as turning off the TV, popping our phones on silent and sitting in a room on our own for a few minutes until we recharge, we would all be doing it. Quietening our minds is much more difficult than turning down the noises around us.
I used to have a great morning routine. One that left me excited and energetic for the day, and fully satisfied to sleep at night. My life in the last 2 years has been filled with new city ambassadorial adventures on an almost daily basis and as exciting as that is it doesn’t leave me recharged for everything else that my working day also includes. My tried and trusted routine, with lack of ongoing practice fell apart, and naturally so did my energy level. As I’m trying to re-calibrate from a hectic lifestyle of late, I’m finding elements of this routine very new and others familiar. It’s like a routine that my current habits don’t like, one my current habits find challenging.
Sitting in silence when our heads are buzzing makes us restless. Our body is trying to keep up with all that is in our heads. For some it might be worry about getting through a certain task, or concerns about someone and needing to talk to or do something for them asap, or a fear of consequences if we simply sat still as opposed to getting to those things. For others, it might be the pressure of getting through a list of items on a checklist so the idea of sitting still feels like we’re being idle and are wasting valuable time that could be used more productively. Regardless, there is a sense of urgency that can erupt when we try to sit still, it’s unfamiliar and uncomfortable. This is a good thing.
Wait what did she say? Being uncomfortable is a good thing. We live in a world that says ‘don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable’ and in certain circumstances absolutely! But when it comes to developing character, putting ourselves outside our comfort zones is EXACTLY where we find growth. So, if sitting still, trying to quiet your mind makes you uncomfortable, good. It means you’re in a place you’re not used to being, and your mind and body isn’t too sure what to do with it right now. That’s ok. There are many ways to try and collect your thoughts that give space for deeper prayer. Regular practice of stillness can allow for greater clarity and honesty when we pray, but it’s imperative you find a method that works for you. This is simply the pattern I’ve found that works for me.
- Start with a brief prayer, the same prayer each morning helps me get into the right frame
- Acknowledging what is on top – what is occupying my thoughts and express why they are important to me right now, then I visualise walking up to Jesus. Sometimes he’s just standing there smiling, other times he’s on the cross, and I picture dropping my thoughts at his feet and try to look up at him. On the days that is hard, I try not to get frustrated with myself for not being able to do it, I simply say Jesus, I’m not ready, help me to trust you with this.
- Read something – scripture passage, spiritual reading, something brief to get my mind reflecting on something other than my own thoughts.
- Meditate on one phrase – what it means to me, why it might be standing out and just try to be still rather than sift through answers. Repeating the one phrase over and over can also help.
- Gratitude – name 3 things I’m grateful for – some days it’s repetitive ‘I’m grateful for a great sleep, for life, and people to love’ other days it can differ ‘for my sunrise run, that person I spoke to yesterday, for the opportunity that is coming around the corner’.
Sit with your routine, with being uncomfortable for as long as you can, and when you’ve had enough acknowledge you did what you could today. Then tomorrow, see if you can hold it out a little longer. Keep hold and keep repeating.
Glimmers of Peace
Normally after a couple of weeks I can finally start to see glimmers of peace returning. Split moments of relief where I’m no longer simply reacting to all that is around me, but I choose how I wish to respond. Sometimes these can come as great gifts of consolation, with a deep sense of joy and gratitude, but mostly they are moments of just ‘being’. You’ll be able to recognize them because they will come in moments where you have stopped ‘doing’ stopped trying to think and just let yourself be.
Without fail, I normally have turbulence arise at a time where a new routine is starting to take roots, almost as if to test their ability to hold on. These can often shake us up and make us doubt whether there is any point in putting in all this effort when we could be fuelling them in a different direction. This is where having to make a personal choice is so important. It’s entirely up to you whether you choose to prioritise practising stillness and peace in your life. You’re entirely free to choose. But if you truly desire it then have faith because God is the fulfilment of all our desires, and he will help us to see through the troubled times. The more we practice utilising stillness to deepen of our prayer life, the more steadfast we become in holding on to Christ, the less likely we are to be phased by all that happens around us.
Now this is the goal. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not there. I have had only one brief glance of what this might look like and it came in a sudden time of adversity, completely out of my control, where nothing mattered because everything was already at Christ’s feet. Attaining this on earth is difficult but striving for it is entirely achievable.
‘Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect’ Mat 5:48.
Perfection exists in heaven, and in reality, isn’t that what we’re all desiring when we want that perfect peace and stillness?
My love and prayers assured,
Stina was born and raised a Norwegian and completed her Bachelor of Psychology and Master of Social Work in Australia. She currently works in both the post-separation sector and supporting families with children diagnosed with cancer and other life threatening illnesses, whilst also being the current Young City Female Ambassador for Wagga Wagga, NSW.