“What’s the best way to find inner peace and connection with my higher power?” A friend of mine asked some five years ago.
“Start each morning with twenty minutes of sitting in the Quiet, listening, pondering, opening your heart,” I suggested.
Fast-forward five years later—my buddy has been doing Quiet-time every morning. “It’s the solution for everything,” he says. “When I’m struggling with a problem, I bring it into my Quiet-time and ask for an answer. And eventually the answer appears. When I’m angry or agitated by someone or something, I lay it out in the open with God in the Quiet and somehow I find peace, forgiveness, and acceptance. I even use my Quiet- time to jump-start the painting I love to do. I call it heART-making because my creativity flows from the Quiet into my heart and spills onto the canvas.”
Studies show that Quiet-time (aka meditation) can reduce blood pressure, decrease stress, and increase coping ability. When we meditate our brains stop processing information as actively as normal as evidenced by research that shows a decrease in beta waves, the electrical activity that occurs when our mind is on alert. And by freeing the mind, allowing it to rest, we create a space within ourselves where God can communicate with us.
It’s no wonder that when Christ was on the earth, he was often found alone in the morning meditating, sitting in solitude, and listening for his father’s voice. Perhaps he instinctively knew that he needed those morning times of oasis so he could quiet his mind, hear his inner voice, and obtain the guidance he needed to carry out his life mission.
So why do we often resist Quiet-time? Why do we avoid resting our minds each morning so we can connect with our inner voice, the voice of the Creator?
Perhaps, one reason is that it feels like we’re doing nothing. We’re just sitting. Pondering. Our mind wanders, buzzes like a mosquito with incessant chatter. And that can feel frustrating. But whether we realize it or not, that buzzing is okay, it eventually subsides if we allow it, and as we permit ourselves to sink into the Quiet we create fertile soil for our inner voice to speak.
Another reason we resist is that we think we’re too busy. We have to get to work, get to the gym or start the laundry. As soon as our feet hit the floor in the morning we’re off racing like a caged hamster on a wheel.
I was that hamster until several years ago when a mentor invited me to set my alarm clock a half hour earlier than usual for ten days. Get up, make yourself a cup of coffee, go into your den, light a candle, sit down, and then close your eyes and just “be,” he told me. Eventually, he said, that morning practice will become a habit and you’ll enjoy it. It’ll become life giving for you.
I followed his suggestion and he was right. Now my morning Quiet-time has become as life giving as eating. It feeds my soul, nourishes my brain, dusts off and opens my heart.
Like any relationship, the more time we spend with a loved one the more we get to know each other, laugh together, and encourage each other. We become “intimate”—in-to-me-see. And it’s the same way with God. The more time we spend with him in the Quiet each day, the more balance, peace, and wholeness we experience simply by taking the time to let him remind us we are loved.
In this season of giving perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves is daily Quiet-time. Time to be alone, rest, ponder, open our hearts, and listen for the inner voice of love to speak.
brian j plachta
I never got that kiss with Teresa. But as I reflect on that long-ago night, I realize Sister Carmella shared two pieces of wisdom I’ll never forget: to leave room for Jesus and the healing power of a smile.