The digital age is loud. Clicking keyboards, instant message blips, email alarms ... TiVo, in-car DVD players, iPods ... even that woman who tells us where to drive via our On-Star system.
It doesn't take much to realize you need quiet time. And quiet time is easier to find than you might imagine. Here are 10 small ways (not huge, not requiring three months of solitude in a northern Canadian monastery, but management and realistic, "today" ways) to be still and unwind.
1. Start your day with Scripture
Spend the first 10 minutes of your work day with your Bible open. Find a study Bible, such as CPH's Today's Light or a Bible study guide such as Lifelight that has 10-15 minutes worth of readings and questions. The questions help focus your meditation and the study guides enable you to put complex passages into a more complete context. Starting your work day in this way helps form the attitude with which you will handle each situation thrown at you.
2. Go for a prayer walk
Take 10 minutes of your lunch hour or coffee break to walk outside. While you walk, mentally talk with God. Don't worry about convention or form - just share your thoughts with Him. Bring Him your hurts, joys and plans. Thank Him for all He has given you and ask for His blessings. The walk can be brisk or leisurely, it doesn't matter. Just take deep, slow breathes, enjoy the open air and talk with God.
3. Sleep in Peace
Before you go to bed at night say Luther's evening prayer. (You can find it in the hymnal or Luther's catechism). This short little prayer reminds you that your body, soul and all you have are in God's capable hands. You can leave your worries and struggles in His hands while you sleep, knowing that a good night of sleep will help you more than a restless night of worry. We can only find true peace in Christ!
4. Post a Passage
Where do your eyes wander to while you are thinking at your desk? Post a meaningful passage of peace and love in that spot. Write it in calligraphy, print it out in your favorite font, or use marker on a cool piece of scrapbook paper. Every time your eyes wander to that spot and you read the verse you will be reminded of the message of the verse. Eventually you won't even have to read it, subconsciously you will recall the meaning of the verse and find a small rest for your soul.
5. Find a Quiet Place
Even Jesus sought out a solitary place to pray and think. Find a place where you are free of distractions and spend some time thinking, praying and feeling peaceful. Perhaps a library, coffee shop, park, church pew, backyard bench or parked car...whatever place makes you feel peaceful and safe. Let that spot be your quiet place. Take the time to relax in that spot while you think and pray.
6. Don't Say a Word
This idea may sound a little out there...but try it before you dismiss it. After a time of Bible Study just sit in quiet. Say a short prayer that the Holy Spirit will bless your time of quiet and then be silent. Don't pray, don't think about your problems, just think about what you read. Let the Scripture verses roll around your mind, sink in and take root.
7. Rush Hour Oasis
Many of us face a stressful or tiresome drive after our work day. Change it into a time of refreshment. Find a CD of music that makes you feel calm and relaxed...or go the other route and choose a CD that is upbeat and refreshing. Don't even think of putting on the loud, crass and annoying talk radio shows or the endless stream of advertising. If music isn't your thing try getting a book on CD from the library. For a startling change just turn your stereo off altogether and pray while you drive. You could pray for a different group of youth each time you drive!
8. Sing in the Shower
There are few places we feel comfortable singing alone and out loud, but the shower has always been a safe place for vocal expression! Memorize a hymn, learn the words to your favorite Christian song, or just make up the words as you go! It's just you and God...sing your lungs out! As the water cleans your body, remember how God used the waters of baptism to clean your soul! Now that's something to sing about!
9. Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep
Laying in bed thinking through the day's worry and struggles doesn't do you any good. As soon as your head touches the pillow thank God for your blessings. Think through each and every good thing the Lord has given you and allow yourself to feel joy and thankfulness...no matter what other thoughts and hurts try to crowd into your mind. Fall asleep thanking God!
10. The Gift of Oxygen
Many smokers say that cigarettes calm them down. Since nicotine is a stimulate, this may seem hard to believe. I heard that the real reason that smoking can calm someone has nothing to do with the cigarette at all. Just standing outside, taking slow deep breathes can help relax you. Try it. Just stand outside and take deep, slow breathes. It works! Breathing in all that oxygen will help you more than smoking ever would! Gods gift of oxygen is good for many aspects of your physical health...but the mental health value is excellent!
Published July 2007