If you’re like me, your mind is always in hyper-drive, bouncing around from thought to thought, idea to idea, and it never seems to pause or take a break, let alone close down. This is not entirely a negative thing; I am able to accomplish a lot in terms of multi-tasking, and I find myself quite productive. However, there are times when the mind (and body) needs to quiet down in order to more mindfully experience the world around you or, better yet, hear the voice of God. There are many tips to help in this effort, from meditation and prayer, to journaling and devotional reading. Even exercise, such as running or walking can be transformed into a meaningful, meditative act.
Whatever method you choose, I implore you to choose one, or several for that matter. Make “spiritual exercise” a part of your daily routine. We often set goals for our physical health, passionately making our gym appointments and workouts non-negotiable entries on our calendar, but we often neglect our spiritual health. Many struggle to know how to get started, so I wanted to share some ideas:
- Put a meditation app on your phone or tablet. There are many to choose from, and range in cost from free to $3-$5. Simply search for “Guided Meditation” apps and choose one. What is terrific about these apps is they offer a range of options, from a 5-minute breathing exercise, to a full-body relaxation, lasting 20 minutes. All at the ease of your device.
- Whatever your faith, select a good devotional book and keep it handy. I am of the Christian faith, so some of my favorite devotional books are “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young, and others by writers such as St. Ignatius, Henri Nouwen and Richard Rohr. Vietnamese Buddhist, and renown Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is a prolific writer on the subject of mindfulness. His book, “The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation” is a good primer for meditation.
- Schedule it in your calendar. If you are intentional about scheduling these mental and spiritual breaks, you are more likely to do them. You might want to experiment with times, but the important thing is to make it a priority.
- Cut off the noise. If you are a commuter, don’t be afraid to shut off the radio and enjoy some silence, either on your way to or from work. You might be surprised at the life-giving energy derived with just some peace and quiet.
- Purchase a new journal. Or, download the journaling app (Day One, available on iTunes). Like a new pair of shoes to a runner, nothing prompts action like a clean slate.
There are countless strategies for integrating mental and spiritual breaks into your life. Never forget that God works through the day-to-day of life, yet we often miss God’s voice because of our chaotic, noisy lifestyles. Intentionally carving out time to listen for God’s voice is a solid investment. You have nothing to lose. Peace and blessings on your journey.