Oh, friends. No. No, she isn’t going to talk about silence and solitude. Is she? If you don’t quite know me yet, let me tell you something. I am an enneagram 7. The Enthusiast! I am one to talk way too much and to always be on the lookout for fun. Yep. That’s me. But, in my years as a 7 and a Jesus follower, I have learned so much. And, one of those things that I have learned is that spiritual disciplines are very important and that silence and solitude is indeed a spiritual discipline.
If you are new to the spiritual disciplines, hearing someone tell you the value of silence and solitude may be a completely foreign and difficult to understand concept. I understand. I’ve been there. It is almost painful for me to unplug, be alone, and listen – all at once. But, there is such value in these sacred times.
I’ve always thought of meditation as this void space. This time when you are trying to empty yourself of every thought that comes to your mind. That you are literally trying to completely clear your head space and bask in tranquility. And then I think about the dishwasher calling my name. And I look at the wall and see those pesky little spots where my kids invariably rubbed their dirty hands. Kids? Where are my kids anyway? You see where this goes? It is so hard for us to completely be alone and away from the noise and distraction. But, it is important. And worth it. So very worth it.
Instead of thinking of silence and solitude as emptying everything from your mind, think of it as a way to fill your mind. Here are a couple of ways that I think are really helpful.
- Ask God questions. Yes, that’s right. There is a book by Bill Hybels where he speaks of this. It’s called Too Busy Not To Pray. When we ask God questions, we are inviting him in. It’s preparing ourselves to listen to what he has to say. The listening part of prayer.
- Meditate on scripture. This can be similar to Lectio Divina. Take a short verse and say it, read it, or pray it several times.
- Visualize. So, in meditation, we are constantly being told to visualize. You know, the whole breathe good in, breathe bad out. So, breathe your verse in, breathe your distractions out.
Author A.W. Tozer once said, “If a man wants to be used by God, he cannot spend all of his time with people.” I firmly believe this to be true. And, I love people. But, there is a sacred, redeeming quality to solitude. I know that it’s hard to begin new things. If you don’t already practice silence and solitude, you will have to get used to it, for sure. Why don’t you try incorporating short periods of time into your day at first? Maybe five or ten minutes. Sneak off to somewhere quiet and breathe. You can work up to more time later. For now, just get into a rhythm. You will be so blessed.