Our annual trip to the fair
It’s that time of year in SWFL. The fair arrived a week or so ago, and my family and I paid our annual homage one evening. To clarify, we don’t go for the rides. In fact, we didn’t ride a single ride this year. In general, it’s to people watch and get our annual fill of the fair food. Notably for me – elephant ears and cotton candy. Alongside my sugar overload is a sensory overload. In the foreground, rides of every shape and size twisting, turning, flipping and dipping from several stories high all the way to the ground. In the center of it all, are sounds of the music for each ride colliding with the vendors shouts for attention to step up and shoot the target or knock Bobo the clown into the water. Not a single moment of silence from the time you enter until your miles away headed home. And in the background are the smells – the food, the petting zoo, and the occasional expression of someone who had too many spins on a ride. In short, it’s sensory overload!
My overloaded thought life
Likewise, for most of my life, I’ve felt like I had a fair going on inside my head. To enumerate there were
- Thoughts about what needed to be done
- Self-criticizing thoughts about what hadn’t been done or hadn’t been done perfectly
- Dreams, plans for dreams, and contingency plans for dreams
- Self-doubting thoughts about accomplishing the dreams
- Ideas, Ideas, Ideas for how to get things done, how to do things perfectly next time, how to accomplish the dreams
- Anxious thoughts and worries. Aka Fear. Like, what will people think, what if I fail, etc.
You get the picture. And it’s not that I didn’t have a “quiet time.” For all of my adult life, I had consistently (not perfectly) set aside time to read scripture, journal and pray. In spite of the decades of this practice, I still found little success in silencing my mind. Until one day I was reading an article on the meaning of “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still means to quiet the mind. I had learned through yoga that meditation was for the purpose of quieting the mind. So I decided to give it a try. First I was surprised by the inaccuracies in my religious upbringing. Secondly, I was blown away the almost disappearance of the fairground in my head.
Silence is golden
I have found silence is truly golden. To put it another way.
Quiet the mind and the soul speaks. tweet
Prayer is for when we want to talk to God, but meditation (quieting the mind) is for when we want him to speak to us. All things considered here is my short list of benefits for making space in my calendar to experience the beauty of silence.
S – Space with a slow pace
Meditation gives you the space to note thoughts, emotions and the practice of continually dismissing them like the passing clouds. It’s about controlling your thoughts rather than letting them control you.
I – Inward focus
Turning our focus inward in silence invites God to speak his ideas and inspiration for us. You’ll begin to notice the distinct difference between a thought in your mind vs. an inspiration in your spirit.
L – Letting go
Notably, the practice of meditation is a microcosm of what it means to let go. Thoughts come, you note them without judgment, and then you let them go. Through practice, over and over again until you find the peace of a quiet mind.
E – Eclipses the Ego
When our thoughts are in overdrive, the Ego tends to be in the driver’s seat trying to figure everything out and direct your life. Silencing the mind so that the spirit can hear, eclipses the ego.
N – Need less
Practicing silence will help you need less. Less technology, fewer distractions from negative thoughts, less to pacify anxiety. Ultimately, those are methods for numbing our brains which are not needed when you effectively quiet the mind.
C – Calm
As you practice meditation in as little as 10 minutes a day, you find you increase your ability to calm your thoughts. The skills you develop in those brief 10 minutes become a habit that you carry with you throughout the day to tame the crazies.
E – Embrace who you are
Quiet the mind, and the soul speaks. Our ego wants us to believe that we are what we think. And when our thoughts are spinning faster and faster like the tilt-a-whirl it can be quite paralyzing. However, when we flip the switch and pause the ride, our spirit can lead us back to our path. A path of peace and purpose.
Grab your journal; it’s your turn to grow
Take a few moments and reflect on your experience with silence.
- Have you avoided silence because your brain wants to go crazy?
- What have your experiences taught you about meditation?
- Take a few minutes to research the science behind meditation and look into meditation apps that honor our faith.
p.s. For my two cents. I’ve used Headspace and Calm. Both simple and straight forward with know spiritual mumbo jumbo. I prefer Calm because it has nature sounds that you can turn on in the back ground.