“Be still and know I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Do you have trouble sitting still?
Better yet — do you have trouble keeping your mind totally and completely clear for more than 10 seconds? Can you manage 5 seconds, or do thoughts and worries and your “To Do” list dart in like uninvited fruit flies vying for your attention?
Being completely still, both physically and mentally, is an act of will and practice. Just as you would practice an exercise until it’s comfortable, you can practice “stillness” until it is also. For example, maybe you enjoy running and you practice running until you are going the distance you wish and at the pace you wish.
Practice takes time — this is the element of “practice” that bothers most of us and causes us to give up. We want to try something and be great at it in the first few attempts. Believe me, when I tell you, Friend, that most things in life worth doing take TIME to learn and perfect. Or better still, it’s a life-long journey towards growing in perfection…you may never actually get there (perfection) but the journey and the progress are certainly worth celebrating!
So try sitting still for 3 minutes the first time. See if you can manage to not wiggle around. Maybe you need to prepare by finding a comfortable place and position on something soft first. Experiment. Once you’ve managed to find a comfortable position, try stretching it to 5 minutes.
Now for the mind-stilling element: If you’re like me, my mind is programmed to think, think, think. I process foreground and background thoughts and even process thoughts I’m unaware of. My mind is constantly in motion, and it is a REAL STRUGGLE for me to focus on something with all of my attention. Now imagine that my attention is focused on NOT THINKING! (Are you laughing yet?) It’s not easy, but it’s really worth it.
I have tried a couple of exercises that helped over the years, and maybe you’ll find something here that works for you.
The first was in a book I read by Deepak Chopra where he suggested lying on your back (or imagining yourself doing so) and see the sky as the canvas of your mind. The clouds that go by are your thoughts, but the clear places in between are the emptiness of thoughtlessness — focus on these empty places.
The second exercise, which I actively employ today, involves “capturing thoughts” as they enter my mind and gently directing them back out the door again. So I imagine my mind is a dark and peaceful room and my thoughts wander in to intrude upon my peace…I gently take them by the elbow and lead them to the right or left and out. Then I focus back into the dark and peace again. I find that the more I lead the thoughts out, the less and less they keep insisting on intruding.
You know, someone pointed out to me a while ago that you can’t really HEAR others if your own mouth is talking. And quite honestly, prayer works the same way. If we are continually going to God with our big bag of worries and “to do” list of things and people to fix, where and when are we actually pausing to hear what HE might have to say about it all?
Do you stop during prayer and ask God what He thinks about you and all that you’ve laid out in front of Him?
Try it! The listening is where the rubber really meets the proverbial road for me. THIS is precisely where I know that I leave off and God picks up. The ideas and thoughts that come into my mind then are not my own (and I know this because they’re way more loving and compassionate and practical than my own!), and I am finally making room for God within me.
In these moments I am at peace.
In these moments, I am calm and quiet and listening.
In these moments I receive life-giving wisdom.
In these moments I receive the love, unending and unconditional, that the deepest parts of my heart and soul so desperately thirst for.
In these moments, I am empty of myself and I am filled by God.
Oh how I wish I could just linger there forever! But the fact is that I can’t sit still that long. And that’s what Heaven’s for…
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the souls who wander here today and pray that they find and hear what You need to tell them today. Thank you, God, for speaking truths to us and continually growing us to be more like Jesus. For when we live our lives tucked away in Your love, we are living more peacefully and confidently. Speak to us with Your voice that is not of this world, and show us Your path. In Jesus’ name…Amen.
Psalm 25: 4-5 “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”