Doing is over-rated. Sometimes the most urgent thing to do is to do nothing and steep yourself in silence. This is especially true when you realize that you are truly not in control of anything or anybody except your own self.
When the chaos of the world gets too much, it is ok to pull back in to renew, reflect and receive the gifts that quiet brings.
Herman Hesse wrote:
“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat any time.”
The plants in winter seem to have this wisdom: they go dormant, grow silently underground, and slowly and quietly gather their resources.
We too can learn to locate a place of stillness inside that we can access at any moment. It is so worth it to find that place within. There, you can take a deep breath. You can unclench your fists.
The prophet Elijah experienced Divine Oneness (that some people call God), not in the fire, nor the earthquake nor the trembling mountain, but as a still small voice (1 Kings 19: 9 – 13).
This connection is accessible to us, too, through silence. We just need to learn to get quiet enough to hear.
So “when you’re weary…feeling small”, find your way to stillness. It can, indeed, be a “bridge over troubled water” as Simon & Garfunkel famously sang.
Here are some ways to find silence:
Be in nature and just listen. Leave your phone at home. Whether it’s the ocean or the forest or your own backyard – the world offers itself to you.
Can you hear the birds?
Do you feel the wind on your skin?
Do you smell the fragrance of winter?
If you are lucky enough to be in the snow – can you sense the unique quiet that winter brings?
Sit or walk in silence.
Turn your tv and phone off. Just breathe.
Feel yourself settle into the couch or chair.
Put your hand on your heart and feel your own heartbeat.
Carve out the time where there is nothing to do, nowhere to go, nobody else to be.
Just this moment.
If guided meditation helps get you to a place of stillness, try the free app insight timer. I have some meditations o the app here.
The poet and yoga teacher, Danna Fauld’s writes:
“Sit here for a bit. Place yourself outside the frenzied pace of life…Sit still and the thin line between sacred and profane simply fades away. There is nothing then to reconcile…”
Carve out a “cave”
When my kids were little, I would read them this tiny book about an elephant mom who just needed 5 minutes of peace. She found it in her bathtub 🙂
Whatever space you can find where you can just be with your own self in stillness – maybe your bedroom with the door closed, or your car, or a corner cubby in a library in town —- Relish this space you have created just for you to experience quiet.
If you had a temple in the secret spaces of your heart,
What would you worship there?
What would you bring to sacrifice?
What would be behind the curtain in the holy of holies?
Go there now.
Please share with me what resonates with you — and how you find a quiet place. (If silence is not your thing, here are 7 Spiritual Tips to Maintain Your Sanity When the News is Challenging.
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Tina Jackson says
Thank you, Rabbi. Wise words, especially in these chaotic times assaulting our senses.
I always appreciate your blog posts as well as your Tweets. As someone with a Jewish father, a mother who was German Lutheran, I found my peace attending Quaker Meeting at my high school in Philadelphia.. These days I attend Quaker Meeting in California, enjoying a circle of Friends (both upper and lower case) sitting in contemplation. It’s a powerful experience to sit quietly with like-minded folks all seeking peace and the inner light we all have within us, but too often ignore.
PS – I also find the lighting of the Shabbat candles a call to quiet contemplation … and of course spending time with our pets My “Sophie” sends her regards to “Bo”. Wishing you an early “Shabbat Shalom” from Carmel, CA.
Thomas Scherer says
Thank you, Rabbi. I will keep this handy! It’s a wonderful guide for finding a sanctuary within – something we can all do.
Susan Prictir says
Thank you, Rabbi. Your words opened a quiet place after a hectic day to breath and welcome Shabbat. I can light my candles now which I do not always do alone. Good Shabbos
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman says
Wonderful. Shabbat Shalom