Turning Down the Volume
I was a part of Formation Community 4, which just finished up this past October. I chose to begin the journey of the retreats because I honestly just needed quiet and time away. I’m a married, working mother with two young children. I manage a household, referee two rambunctious children, run a home music studio, sing in a professional choir, teach college music courses, and lead worship. I was “dangerously tired” in every possible way. My soul NEEDED rest. I didn’t know what spiritual practices were, but if it got me peace and quiet in a beautiful retreat center with a private room and a bathroom all to myself, I was in!
What I didn’t expect was how life-giving the relationships, discussions, readings, and practices would be. I was able to form deep bonds with my fellow retreat members. I also walked away with a set of tools to deepen my relationship with God.
The spiritual practice that was the most helpful to me in moving toward integration, health, and relationship with God was silence and solitude.This is the practice of sitting alone in a quiet room and turning off the “monkey mind,” all the thoughts that are screaming for attention. “Will my kids grow up to be good people?” “We need more toilet paper.” “Does that contain nuts?” “Will it be snowing the week I have to drive the carpool in March?” “Am I challenging this student enough?” “I should get that mole looked at…”
Silence and solitude is not meditation. It’s a time of being present with the Holy Spirit.
For me, this looks like setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and focusing on my breath. Inhale four counts, and exhale four counts. If an important or nagging thought pops up, I’ll write it down so I can take care of it later. Otherwise, I put each stray thought, as it comes, in an imaginary balloon and send it off into the atmosphere.
When I’ve quieted my mind and turned down the volume on the unimportant things, I can be more open to God’s presence and voice in my life right here right now. He tells me I’m safe. He tells me to let things go. He tells me I don’t have to do everything alone. Oftentimes, He tells me nothing. I just sit there in the quiet with Him.
After the timer goes off, I’m more ready. More ready for the day. More ready to listen. More ready to take the lead. More ready to be a mom and wife. More ready to play. More ready to be in the moment, this moment today, right here, right now, not that hypothetical moment I was stressing about three months from now.
Libby is married to Dan and they have two beautiful rambunctious children, Elijah (6) and Imogen (5). During the day she teaches in higher education and at night runs a private music studio and sings high notes. She is an enneagram 6w5, if you couldn’t already tell.