In our world of constant political tweets and nagging notifications, peace can feel elusive. The low-grade static of social comparison and personal dissatisfaction hums irritatingly throughout our days. It can scratch at our souls, leaving us uncomfortable without knowing exactly why.
It’s difficult to stop hurrying and embrace silence and its many benefits – one of which is greater peace: not just in our schedules, but in our souls.
Here are seven practical tips to help you have more peace.
||ONE|| Go somewhere beautiful, in nature. Sit on the grass or a park bench, preferably away from crowds. Put your phone on airplane mode and set a timer for ten minutes – or five, even- so you aren’t tempted to pick it up to check the time. Breathe deep and just notice things. The tree, the clouds, the chattering of squirrels. Embrace boredom, if that’s what happens. When is the last time you had the luxury of being bored?
||TWO|| Step into a church: the darker and more candle-lit, the better. Sit in a quiet spot and allow your soul to be still. Give God your cares, your worries, your ideas, and your to-do list. The Creator of time and space made these dimensions as a gift for us, not a burden. Don’t be afraid to accept them and their accompanying limitations: those boundaries protect our human nature. Who of us hasn’t felt the strain of trying to be two places at once, answering email while drinking a coffee and walking to a meeting, or responding to a text while making dinner for our children? Be in church and in church only.
||THREE|| Ditch your earbuds. Stop drowning out the sounds of life and tune in to the soundtrack of your day. Pay attention to the people who are squashed in with you on the train, rushing by you on the sidewalk, cutting you off in the turn lane: intercede for them. Get on the treadmill and let your mind wander, for once. Clean your bathroom without the distraction of a podcast as a small, simple, offering to God for the gifts of hot water and indoor plumbing.
||FOUR|| Take the scenic route. Don’t let efficiency be your idol. Wander slowly past something beautiful. Pause to look up rather than ahead. Actually take in what you see. What beauty can you find if you would only stop hurrying?
||FIVE|| Fast from social media. Stop being interested in everyone else’s avocado toast, beach holiday, or incorrect political opinion. If you use social media to connect, then skip it and just connect. Plan a skype call to someone far away. Leave a voice memo. Meet for coffee. (If you arrive early, resist the urge to check in online; look around the shop and engage your five senses in the experience.)
||SIX|| Break up with your phone. The dopamine-hit-delivering, distraction-creating, addiction-building constant companions that enslave us all could really use a re-think. Do an honest technological examination of conscience. Are you afraid to be without it? Does it keep you company in the milliseconds of silence between one thing and the next? Is it the last thing you see before going to sleep at night and the first thing you see when you wake up? Don’t be afraid to fill your days with silence and self-reflection rather than distraction.
||SEVEN|| Get a plant. Tending to any living thing takes attention. It can’t speak to you, so you have to take special care in observing its silent and often delayed responses to your actions. (Does it like this kind of light? Does it have too much water? Maybe it needs a larger pot?) Cultivation is an art, not a science, and like all art, it takes time and practice to master. (And the nice thing about plants is that they offer lots of room for failure. If one dies, you can always buy another!) Tending a plant also reminds us of God’s tender care for our souls. Use it to consider the work He’s doing on yours.
Our contemporary western culture is obsessed with the #hustle. Creating space for peace, though? That’s the real work. Be bold. Pause long enough to take a breath and look up from your work, your phone, your calendar, and your commitments to consider if peace is a priority for your life. If it is, what small step can you take towards it, today?