In the last few months I’ve really tried to embrace silence more often. To put my headphones down, turn off Netflix, logout of Instagram, and just be still. To pray more often, without distractions.
To my surprise, it is not that easy. I don’t think I’m the only one that struggles either. Here’s a sneak peak into how it’s all been going for me so far. Maybe you can relate?!
1. You sit down to pray and this happens:
2. You go quietly to your room to contemplate and your neighbor’s kids start yelling in the yard below:
3. You tell yourself you’ll switch off the TV in five minutes but you suddenly develop a deep interest in an obscure sport and you just can’t tear yourself away:
4. The album that you’ve been waiting 18 months for is finally released and you just can’t stop hitting repeat:
5. You go to put your phone on flight mode so you can have some quiet time and you see the group chat has just blown up:
6. You think you’ll go pray once you’ve cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, and why not the garage as well?!:
Ok, all jokes aside, I’m still working on this being silent thing. But despite my frustrations and failures with seeking silence, I still know that silence is completely necessary for our spiritual life. I know that when I don’t stop and take a break from the wall-to-wall social media, music and videos that are sandwiched in between the responsibilities of daily life, my soul gets fatigued.
Thankfully, I have learnt a few things in my struggle for silence so far, which I’ll call 6 Essential Tips for Silence. What’s your 7th? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Start small and build up
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Begin by spending small amounts of time in silence each day, or resolve to cut one distraction (an app, headphones, or even your phone) out of your life.
2. Set the same time every day to spend in silence
This builds silence into your day as a habit, and makes it easier to stick to if you know you’ve made that daily commitment.
3. Know that distractions are often a form of pain relief
Bored? Lonely? Suffering? Work or studying is too challenging? There is always a distraction to numb that. So if you can’t bear to be in silence, it may well be worth fixing or exploring the cause of the distraction. Perhaps seeking out a good friend or counsellor to listen to you could be a solution.
4. When in silence, acknowledge the distractions
You don’t have to do battle with constantly trying to ignore whatever is distracting you. Acknowledge the thought, noise, or irritation, but let it pass through your mind again and return yourself to your prayer or contemplation.
5. Stick through the uncomfortable beginning phase
Have you ever had to spend an extended period of time without your phone? At first being without it feels uncomfortable. After a while, a peace sets in. It is the same with silence. It feels strange at first, but once you get comfortable with it, you realise how incredibly beneficial it is.
6. Educate yourself on why silence is so important
“Silence is the canvas on which God speaks” is the one thing that motivates me to keep persevering after silence, even during times when I’m not formally in prayer. Silence is the way we can simply be with God. When you begin to understand why it is so important, it becomes easier to strive for that time in silence, no matter how difficult it is.