If you know me, you know I’m a constant learner. I love listening to a new episodes of favorite podcasts and reading new books for my book clubs. I’m always midway through some audio books on various topics. I’m frequently learning and practicing new or old choreography for my fitness classes. I read blogs on yoga, psychology, leadership, faith, health and food. I browse my favorite magazines, start my day with devotionals, bible studies and often sermons. In Life Group, church and the ministry I love serving with regularly, I digest several teaching series. Content is not lacking. Even outside of learning I am often feeding my ears and heart with music. (Every Friday feels a little like Christmas when all the new music drops because of how much I love to listen to it!) In other words, my strengths of learning and focus are excellent traits, but if I’m not careful they can also contribute to my mind will always being “on”.
With little to no periods of space, of quiet, of nothingness, old mental habits can subtly slip in and take charge. I start to forget that real life exists right in front of me – God in the flesh, the Spirit, the moment. Instead, I’ll be thinking: “What’s next? What do I want to listen to? What do I want to do? What are my plans for the next days, weeks, month?” And on and on and on.
Our minds are great great gifts. Without our ability to be conscious we wouldn’t move, we would’ve achieve excellent things, we wouldn’t be human. But we are so much more than our minds. We are spirit, and heart, and emotion and presence. We are half animal half divine. We were made for more than mental consumption, planning, and being in control. We were made to connect. To pause. To be creative and find meaning beyond our achievements and knowledge.
This truth is clear even in our make up. Wired in us is the requirement to sleep for nearly a third of our lives so we can renew, heal and grow stronger. The same truth I believe is meant for our waking hours. Even seen in the bible, God commands us to rest for an entire day every single week. That’s one seventh of our lives solely devoted to non-achievement, non-production, non-consumption. God designed us to give a decent portion of our lives to doing nothing. That’s a powerful. Pause and consider that. In our make up is a need for nothing. For quiet. For space. For placing our being over our doing.
Without accepting, embracing and loving how we are made, we slowly break. For weeks I realized I was stuck in anxiety. I know all the right things. I do all of the right things. I’m a yoga teacher… it’s not that I don’t know what to do. But what I forget, is my need to pause. Pause for my mind. Pause for my spirit. Pause so I remember I do not have to figure life out on my own.
If I’m not careful, my great strengths of achievement and learning become my great weaknesses. Without the space, the pause, the quiet, there is not room for God to speak, no room for my mind to heal, renew or rest. My mind will become full of words, voices and media, but it doesn’t have the room to remember the I AM speaks too, and often in the moments between the noise. One of my signs that I need a pause is a lingering anxiety. Anxiety isn’t uncommon or negetive in spurts, but when it lingers, when it doesn’t move, I am realizing it’s a helpful sign whispering with it’s uncomfortable voice of constriction in my chest “hey, it’s ok. You can let go. Pause. Turn it off. The Holy Spirit is here. God’s moving the world forward to a good place. You need some quiet. Stop. Rest.”
This week, I started calling this pause my sitting practice. Even if I’m standing by the sink washing dishes, it’s my practice of nothing. My practice of trusting in a Greater Voice, a Greater Force moving this world, the Christ in and around and always.
It’s not easy. And it’s simplicity makes it easy to overlook. But this practice is powerful and for me necessary. It’s meaningful to remember that without the quiet, my deeper soul has nowhere to process what life has thrown my way. All the stresses and fears and overwhelms need their room to surface, to be felt, to be cared for, to be lifted up and spoken over by God.
Our minds, our hearts, our aches, and our worries all need space. They need open areas to be felt, to be listened to, to be heard. We are human and we are process. Unlike machines, we sleep and we weep. We have ingrained in us a need for rest and for our emotions to be felt.
It’s in the quiet our spirit remembers we are enough.
It’s in the quiet we can begin to trust God speaks beyond our wordy thoughts.
It’s a dichotomy again, as all life seems to be. When we stop, we regain life. When we quiet, we find the vibrancy beneath the captivating noise.
I’m learning, just as with food and exercise, that moderation matters and periods of internal rest are required for deep lasting health. I benefit when I let my anxiety or my swirling mind tell me when it’s time to quiet so I can get back to my center, my Strength, my Voice, myself. God is here. God is within. God can and does speak. God is already at work. God can be trusted.
May we all learn to pause long enough to hear this deeper Voice that can be trusted, to commune with the present Spirit loving us well from within and to live from the Source that sustains and propels all, even our own lives.
Grace & peace.
Musings and Randoms
Got to visit dear friends and family and meet new babies recently. This visit was a reset to my soul as it had lots of time of quiet and connection with loved ones. Two things vital for a healthy grounded life! Photo is from near the Watchung reservation in north NJ.
Loved this episode of The Robcast on you being the authority of your life. Something I too am learning to exercise.
New podcast I’ve been liking is called Fun Therapy by Mike Foster. If you like psychology and emotional growth, you’ll probably enjoy it.
Oh my goodness The Lone Bellow is so fantastic in concert! Saw them again Friday in Philly. I’ve seen them 4x live and they still hold the status of my favorite band to see in concert. SO GOOD. Their energy, lyrics, personalities together and the way they love their opening acts is so engaging and enjoyable. Check them out!
I finished the book None Like Him by Jen Wilkin recently and highly recommend it. Anyone who desires to set their focus on how God is different from us and how that is a really good thing will thoroughly value Jen’s content in this book. Plus it’s a fun enjoyable read and she has excellent scripture passages and questions for reflection.
I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday that involves some quiet and time to remember how loved you are and how much there is to be grateful for as God in you is giving you the ability to read this line and breathe this breath.