This semester I’ve been taking seminary classes online. For those of you who don’t know seminary is a graduate program that prepares individuals for ministry by studying theology and church history. Two of the classes I’ve been taking focus on learning about yourself so you can better understand yourself in relationship to God. One of my assignments has been a practice called Centering Prayer. This practice involves a form of meditation where you sit in silence and allow yourself to sit in the presence of God. It is not a common prayer practice because you aren’t actually talking with God rather you are sitting in his presence. Whenever you have a thought, the goal is to let the thought go and focus on just being.
This practice has been very challenging for me. It has shifted my perspective regarding the importance of silence and stillness for mental health. As a culture we are extremely busy. When was the last time you intentionally sat quietly in stillness? What happens when we sit quietly without distraction or interruption?
I believe that this practice is difficult because we use distraction as a way to avoid dealing with uncomfortable topics. We can use busyness to avoid our emotions, conflict with others, our own physical needs, and even the needs of our soul. Regardless of your beliefs about God, I truly believe that we would all benefit from more stillness in our lives. Filling every moment of our day is not only impractical but harmful to our well-being.
This week I’m attending a business conference with my team. We came down a day early to get settled and get some work done. Do you know the first thing that struck me about this whole experience? I need more sleep. When I keep myself busy, I push myself to the point of exhaustion. However, when I take time to be still and rest, I find that I often fall asleep. This may seem counter-intuitive but slowing down and sitting in silence actually allows your body to tell you what it needs! I challenge you to take 10 minutes today and sit in silence. You may be surprised what you discover!