Seeking peace in mind and body
So many of us find it hard to sit still. We are on the move constantly, scrolling, glancing, wandering, muttering! While that restless activity may sometimes produce creativity and action, often it just makes us feel both exhausted and unproductive.
Where is God when I need Him?
God does a great line in activity, whipping up a storm or playing with the laws of time and space. But He also does stillness to perfection, as you would expect. And He longs for us to learn to enjoy stillness with Him.
When we are truly still we begin to tune in to God, and find a new rhythm. We begin to get life in perspective. We begin to notice things we had forgotten: the sound of small creatures, the inner workings of our body, the sensation of touch and smell. We become both more fully present to the physical moment we are in, and also lifted up above ourselves to a wider perspective. We allow ourselves to take our hands off the controls and let God steer for a while. Outwardly there may be stillness but inside there may be revolutionary things happening: it is far from passive or dull!
We often organise retreats from Christ Church but how many of us feel confident enough to give them a go? Work your way towards it in this step by step guide.
How do I learn to be still?
Getting retreat- ready; From Smart Phone to Armchair. (A reverse of Couch to 5k..!)
All the experts say that practice is the key. It takes time to learn, and we need to be patient with ourselves. Most people recommend that you start small. Take 5 minutes each day. Or start with 3 if you are anxious about 5! Turn off gadgets and put them out of sight/ hearing. Get comfortable, but upright and focused. Have a pen and paper nearby to jot down things that you think of and will be a distraction if you don’t write them down.
- Breathe slowly and deeply, holding on to your breath for a count of 3 and letting go slowly for a count of 3.
- Be aware of your body and its sensations. Tense each part in turn, then release, starting with your feet and slowly working up. Pay special attention to hands, shoulders and jaw, making sure that they are relaxed.
- Listen. Become aware of the sounds you can hear and then let them go.
- Try one of these methods; In your mind, say a simple phrase in time to your breathing, such as “Come Lord Jesus” or “Be still and know that I am God.” “Here I am, Lord, your servant is listening.” Or picture Jesus doing something from the Gospels such as washing his disciples’ feet or sharing bread.
- If thoughts and pictures come to mind, allow them in and imagine looking at them with the Lord. Ask him in your mind to tell you about them. Notice how they make you feel. Talk to the Lord about them honestly. If words or pictures of encouragement or verses from Scripture come, stay with them and look at them with the Lord. Don’t worry if your thought seem random or jumbled. Ask God to show you what He wants to.
- At the end of 5 minutes speak words of thanks to God such as”Thank you Lord, for this time of stillness. Be with me as I go on my way.”
- If there are things you feel God spoke to you about, or something you want to remember, jot down in a journal. It’s a good idea to write something each time, even if it’s just a sentence to describe how hard it was to be still! Read over your notes every few days and see what’s been happening.
Retreat days usually have a time of guided reflection at the start to help you settle into a good frame of mind and give you a focus for your thoughts. There will be breaks for drinks and meals, and the chance to wander and explore as our preferences dictate. Different people enjoy different ways to spend time with God. Yet a time of stillness is a powerful experience, and the more we pursue this practice the more we will long for it to be extended. Even those who take most of a day to settle, find that home time comes far too soon!
If you would like to book on our next retreat day at Llangasty on 13th March, please contact Maggie Nichols through firstname.lastname@example.org