In Success Through Stillness, Russell Simmons, who teaches meditation practices, shows how stillness helps us find greater clarity and focus and helps us be healthier in body and mind.
Eckhart Tolle who wrote Stillness Speaks said,
“To meet everyone and everything through stillness instead of through mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer the universe. I call it stillness because it is a jewel with many facets: that stillness is also joy, it is also love.”
I thought about that for a minute. It struck me that we do indeed meet with people, and listen to them through a veil of noise. If we are meeting for the first time, we are judging who that person may be and what they’ve done. We are evaluating them during each sentence. Perhaps we are playing games to remember the person’s name, position or the topic of conversation. We are almost certainly thinking of the ‘next thing’. Where do we need to be next? What time is it? Who else is in the room? Do I need to make an impression? It’s all noise of the distracting sort.
In our world of electronics and electrics, we are also hearing the words of another through the background hum of many machines. In some homes, it can be nothing more than the refrigerator. And unfortunately (and rudely) in today’s world we are listening to others with one eye on our cell phone, iPad, smart phone or other electronic device.
In our family and in others, we joke about having attention problems by stopping mid-sentence and turning abruptly to point out a squirrel, or to randomly blurt out a color that is completely off topic. We are often multi-tasking for no good reward.
Mother Theresa claims that God can only be found in silence.
“We need to find God [and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness]. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… .We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Mother Theresa
In our spiritual lives, God tells us pointedly in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”
I recently asked friends where their favorite quiet place was. They were all eager to go there, to be in their garden, in the woods, in rocker a small room; away from the noise and bustle of the world.
Certainly, it is harder to spend time with God when we are running to and fro, fighting traffic, trying to remember what our next errand is, and absorbing the noise around us; when the kids get home from school and hubby closely follows. And if we are working mothers the juggling begins and the noise associated with it heightens. Put yourself in that few hours: dinner preparations, household chores, managing children’s evening needs, bed time and next day preparations, the dog wants out, the cat wants in, and hubby wants to talk about his day. It’s all noise, and it doesn’t stop until we fall into bed.
When do we spend time with God? When it gets quiet. That’s as it should be. We can then hear Him relate passages of His word playing back in our heads. We can hear Him remind us of His love. We can hear Him tell us about those who need prayer, and we can find thanksgiving and joy. Without the cacophony of the day, we can stop, let God in and think.
Our Father tells us in Matthew 6:6 “..when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Michael Hyatt is a leadership trainer recognized in the frantic business world. He says, “I have a difficult time turning off my mind and just being still. I seem to be more of a human doing than a human being.” He credits a book his wife gave Him called The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. The first chapter is called “Nothing”. Beck says, “to begin the Joy Diet, you must do nothing for at least fifteen minutes a day.”
“This is tremendously difficult in our media rich, always-on, over-communicated society. Noise crowds into every empty space, leaving us spiritually, mentally, and emotionally exhausted,” says Hyatt. He listed these reasons for wanting to make this exercise a regular routine.
1. I want to maintain perspective. If I don’t make time to be still, then I find myself in reactive mode—influenced by hundreds of little voices with big demands.
2. I want to stay connected to my true self. I don’t want to get confused, thinking that I am the image I present to the world. They are related, of course, but I want to live from the inside out.
3. I want more internal margin in my life. While I have been pursing external margin in my calendar and finances, I also want internal margin—more room to notice what matters most and be thankful for it.
Hyatt claims that the practice has been “one of the most transformational things I have ever done.”
These authors have various reasons for wanting a ‘piece of quiet’ and many methods for obtaining it. So I wonder, can we not find 15 minutes in our hectic day to spend with God in quiet?
I know from my experience with breast cancer treatment that quiet has advantages. It was forced on me in a big way. Stillness comes with the devastating illness. We have little desire to move, or to do. During the quiet of half-sleep in the chemo lab, you find time and resolution to pray. You find joy in praying. By the end of the treatment weeks, you find much to be thankful for. When you are chemically exhausted and ill, you make almost no effort to be doing the things that took up your time. How ironic.
During recovery, sitting alone in a delicate, delicious silence among the flowers and birds was a wonderful gift from God- and to God. Sitting quietly in a rocking chair because you have no brain power to even read, it is remarkable how much of God’s word you can hear, and how much of that time is His.
God intended that all along. He wanted Adam and Eve in a garden, for companionship. He charged the tribes of Israel to build a tabernacle, apart, to be alone with those who petitioned Him.
Jesus went alone to the mountain to pray, to talk to His Father. He went very early in the morning, to be alone, apart from the disciples, to talk with His Father before He met His death. Throughout the Old Testament, stories relate how God spoke in the stillness, in a whisper, and offered peace.
Peace, and a ‘Piece of Quiet’ (and many pieces) are some of God’s most wonderful gifts; as a Father unto His children. Receive them graciously.
April Boyer has published a number of newspaper and magazine articles, devotional studies and poetry, and has contributed to anthologies.
She is in the process of co-authoring a biography about her mother, and a writer/artists devotional calendar.
In His Shadow was published in Oct. 2013 after her cancer treatments concluded. She was inspired to share her experience with other women going through similar circumstances as a way to give them hope and encouragement. She plans to publish a sequel of sorts called Next Mornings in 2015. It is a look at how she took the next steps, and returned to living and thriving. April credits all her words to the Author and Finisher of her life, Jesus Christ.