Our spiritual practice for November is Silence & Solitude.
Silence & Solitude is simple. It’s intentional time in quiet to be alone with God and ourselves.
Throughout the gospels we see Jesus practicing Silence & Solitude all the time and as we grow as disciples in a frenetic, over busy, and stressed out culture, we believe this practice will draw us into God’s rest and love.
Here’s How You Can Practice This
Make intentional time, at least three times a week, for silence and solitude in God’s presence.
Let’s Get Practical
Silence and solitude is in relationship with practices like Lectio Divina and Listening Prayer and you may want to incorporate these together.
Below is a practical outline/exercise in how you can incorporate Silence & Solitude into your week (taken from www.practicingtheway.org):
1. Identify a time/place that works well for you
Time: For most people, first thing in the morning works best. You’re rested, fresh, and the day is young. For others, a more optimal time slot is when kids are napping in the late morning, or on a lunch break, after work, or before you go to bed. Feel free to experiment until you find the right fit.
Place: Find a place that is quiet and as distraction free as possible. A comfortable chair with a blanket and candle nearby works well for a lot of people. Weather permitting, a park or nature reserve are also a good bet.
2. Set a modest goal
Beginners: It’s better to start small and work your way up. We recommend you start with ten minutes, 3-5 days a week.
Intermediate: If you already practice silence and solitude a few times a week, consider upping it to every day.
Advanced: If you already practice silence and solitude daily, consider upping your time (to, say, an hour), or just giving your time a high level of focus.
Then, for the practice…
1. Put away your phone or any other distractions, settle into your time/place, and get comfortable
For most people, sitting with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, legs on the floor is a good start. Others do better lying on their back in a relaxed position.
Some of you may prefer to do this exercise while walking or doing something simple with your hands, like laundry or drawing.
2. Begin with a breathing prayer
Close your eyes.
Take long, deep, slow breaths (if you want, count 4 seconds in, 4 seconds wait, 4 seconds out, repeat). Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.
Start to pay attention to your breathing. Just “watch” your breath go in and out.
Release the constant chatter in your mind. Let each thought go as quickly as it comes, and just focus on your breathing.
Your mind will sieze this opportunity to run wild with thoughts, feelings, memories, to do’s, and distractions. That’s okay. Don’t judge yourself, feel bad, give up, or worry. When you notice your mind start to wander, just recenter with a quick prayer, like, “Father…” and come back to your breathing.
In the beginning, just 1-2 minutes of this is a huge win, and 10 minutes is a home run.
3. Spend a few minutes “abiding in the vine”
Transition from your breathing prayer to “the practice of the presence of God.”
Notice God’s presence all around you, in you. For some people it’s helpful to imagine the Father is sitting in the chair across from you or on a throne.
Welcome his love, joy, and peace from the Holy Spirit.
If you want, open your mind and imagination to listen for God’s voice, or get something off your chest in prayer.
But the main goal here is simply to “be with Jesus.” Don’t feel like you have to “do” anything. Just relax and enjoy his presence.
4. Close in a prayer of gratitude and commit the rest of your day to the Father
A few things to note:
You can’t “succeed” or “fail” at this practice. All you can do is show up. Be patient. This takes some people years to master. Resist the urge to say, “I’m bad at this” or “This isn’t for me.” Don’t judge yourself, especially if you’re an overachiever type.
If you’re more of an “S” on the Meyer’s Briggs, and sitting still is just death, you might want to try this while doing a stretching exercise or going on a walk somewhere quiet and distraction free (like a park or short hike). Apply the same idea to a walking prayer, and just focus on your walking instead of your breathing.