Stillness is absolutely a choice. I know, that can be hard to hear. But it’s true. Stillness is a choice that can seem obstinate and far away, even unattainable and it is definitely easier said than done, like for real. But still a choice nonetheless. I can say this, because I’ve been on the crazy train of hectic schedules and full calendars and I’ve made the choice to get off and be still. I did it, and you can too.
Perhaps, stillness is appealing to you…foreign and new, enticing you to try to figure it out. There was a time when I was absolutely overcome by my overloaded commitments and my soul sincerely yearned for stillness. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there. Trust me, coming from the other side, stillness is achievable and oh, so worth the effort.
Stillness in Slowing Down
So, how did I choose stillness? I will give you some practical tips I learned along the way a little later in this post, but I believe the first step to finding stillness is in slowing down. So, how do you go about slowing down? Well, for me, it was about reassessing my schedule and removing things that were draining me of my joy. I began to make a conscientious effort be fully present in the moment, devoting my energy to the task at hand rather than the million other things on my mind.
The most important thing is to recognize that choosing stillness is a process. It really can’t happen overnight. It is the culmination of choosing day after day, moment after moment, to put the brakes on and just be. Eventually, it will become habit and you won’t remember how to live any other way. I speak from experience. I can honestly say that busyness is what feels foreign to me now.
It’s also important to understand that our life is made up of seasons, some of which will be busier than others. But you can choose to not get lost in the busyness when those seasons come. Time and time again, choosing stillness will bring rest, even in those seasons of hustle.
Faith in the Stillness
Once I desired stillness in my life and I committed to making the changes necessary to slow down, I was able to find rest for my weary soul. I truly believe that it is in stillness that we can fully experience God and our faith can grow to new bounds.
At a time when I was overwhelmed with life, I clung to the hope I found in Psalm 46:10. This verse became a mantra of sorts for me, a daily intention that guided my every action. I could always find rest in choosing to “Be Still & Know…”
Ever since I was young, I’ve tried to carve out some quiet time with the Lord and I honestly feel a little lost when I don’t get it in. However, in the busier times of my life I have caught myself just going through the motions of my devotion time, or even rushing through to get on to the next thing I “needed” to get done that day. But faith can’t be rushed. It needs time to work in our hearts, to settle into our soul. Sometimes this means waking up a little earlier to be sure to start the day right with intention and focus on the Word.
When you live your life by the Word, you begin to shift your priorities, and in shifting your priorities, you can start to clearly see where your time should be most preciously devoted. In my personal transition from busy to still, I was inspired to narrow down my attention to three priorities in which I gauge all things in my life. By keeping it simple, I am able to live out each day according to these priorities. If something on my agenda doesn’t fall under one of these priorities, it gets cut, simple as that.
So how can you learn to do this for yourself? Well, let me share with you some tips I learned along the way to help you incorporate stillness into your life…
10 Tips for Slowing Down
- 1) Shift Your Life Priorities: Take some time to reassess your life’s priorities. Are you living life aimlessly? Do you feel pulled in a hundred different directions? Do some soul searching and get into the Word to determine a handful (3-5) of important priorities in your life. Then do your best to structure your day around them, skipping tasks and activities that don’t fit the bill. Over time, this will become second nature to you and you will begin to gauge all your commitments by where they fall under your priorities.
- 2) Do Less, Expect Less: Ok, if you are an A Type personality like myself, just go ahead and get out your planner or calendar right now. Start crossing off or deleting items that don’t fall under any of your priorities. Choose to reduce your commitments and say no, without hesitation. Start expecting less of yourself. Now, I don’t mean you should just give up on things and not be held accountable. But cut yourself some slack, if you are like me, you probably have too high of expectations which puts pressure on yourself to do more.
- 3) Leave Some Wiggle Room: Don’t over-plan your day. Allow yourself more time for tasks and events than you think they will take. Pencil in time for yourself, too. Give yourself a deadline time for every day; a time that you can stick to for shutting down and not making commitments after whenever possible. Just because there are 24 hours in a day, doesn’t mean you need to schedule every one of them.
- 4) Be A Unitasker: Multitasking is so over-rated. Can you really do multiple things well all at once? Let alone the brain strain that can cause. Now, don’t let me fool you, I used to multitask with the best of them. Heck, I even prided myself on my multitasking skills. Which is part of what led to my inability to manage stress in the first place. Choosing to purposely do one thing well at a time will take practice and patience for sure, but like most things, it will eventually become habit.
- 5) Morning Quiet Time: Start each day with the Lord and in a moment of quietness. This quiet time is your personal time to grow in your faith and can look very different from person to person. Maybe it’s with a devotional, some Bible reading, prayer time, worship music, or just some silence and a cup of coffee. Whatever you do, try to include some time to reflect on your blessings and start your day with gratitude.
- 6) R&R Time in the Evening: Now, I’m not asking you to take a mini-vacation every night, but I am saying it is important to schedule some down time in the evening for yourself. Create a tech curfew, a time every night where technology gets shut down and put away, so that you can purposefully unplug and disconnect from the modern world. Make this curfew early enough that you can actually wind down from your day and commit some quality time to your family without distraction.
- 7) Return of the Sabbath: Sunday has become just as busy as any other day of the week these days. But the Lord built in a day of rest for us because He knew we needed it. So I’m challenging you to take back the Sabbath! To do this you will have to intentionally leave your schedule open, unplug for a while, and choose to rest. This may feel restless at first, but you will come to protect your Sundays as an important day to share in faith, family, and friendships.
- 8) Meditation & Yoga: I am no yogi, but I have a few basic Yoga DVDs that include meditative breathing. I encourage you to give these practices a try; they may seem challenging at first, especially if you are not used to slowing down. But I do believe they will help create comfort in the stillness and teach you to shut your brain off to be in the moment.
- 9) Spend Time in Nature: Spending time in nature always seems to instill the practice of slowing down for me. I am able to soak in the sights and sounds around me and appreciate the little things through my senses: a butterfly gently floating by, the hum of a bee nearby, a cool gust of wind, the warm sun on my back. By making a daily practice of spending 5 to10 minutes outdoors in peace and quiet, you might just start to feel your stress levels go down while stillness seeps into your soul.
- 10) Get Your Zzz’s: Getting enough sleep is crucial to your overall health–I could probably write an entire post on all the benefits of sound sleep. Yet, I used to burn the candle at both ends, going to bed super late and waking up very early. I took it for granted or blew it off to get more done in my day. I had to change my behavior by structuring my day such that I could get a good night’s rest. Our body and mind need to reset and replenish. Getting enough quality sleep is an act of slowing down, resting in stillness.
- Bonus Tip–Let Go & Let God: When in doubt, just trust God to carry you through. He won’t give you more than you can handle and He will always provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). Stillness can absolutely be achieved if you desire to make the effort to find it. But I’m not going to lie, this is a big shift and you will need to rely on God to bring you through to the other side.
I hope you can take something from this post and put it into action today. I’ve shared these tips with you because I have had lasting benefits from choosing stillness in my life, which you can read more about here, and I can’t imagine going back to the crazed pace in which I used to live. Psalm 46:10 is truly my heart’s song:
Be Still & Know…