The sound of silence

My morning routine is a bit like this: My alarm goes off and I lie in bed a moment longer to pray for the day ahead. After getting up, I’ll give my inbox a quick scan, and then read or listen to something devotional and inspiring, sometimes distracted by my mail or to-do list. Then I’ll get dressed, eat breakfast, and then I’m off to work.

My day is full of sounds and action; I’m listening, thinking, speaking, typing all day long, and when the day is over, I relax by reading or talking with a friend or watching something humorous. I even listen to audiobooks as I fall asleep. Life is constant mental processing. I’m receiving input and information and reacting and thinking all the time. I don’t experience silence unless I carve out space for it, which I try to do daily.

For me, meditation is taking time to still my mind, to be silent, to breathe deeply, to be grateful and reflective. It’s not a time when I try to accomplish or achieve anything mentally. Meditation is something I’m naturally drawn to, and if I go for a few days without some form of meditation, I begin to feel it.

I grew up in a large family of 10 with lots of bustle, excitement, and noise. So from an early age I sought out solitude and quiet. During my teen years, I would climb onto a small ledge adjoining our balcony that overlooked our garden and giant jackfruit tree. There I would read and write, or sometimes just sit and think.

Lately, however, I’ve chosen to multitask my meditation with my exercise routine. While running or walking, usually in a beautiful, peaceful place, I slip into meditation mode.

The world is full of information, music, media, and distractions. There’s so much that can take you away from thinking—like watching something lighthearted after an especially grueling day. And while activities that take your mind off the day or your troubles can be relaxing, the purity and beauty of meditation is that it not only relaxes you, but it can also energize you to face the challenges of life.

I once read that meditation is a bit like pouring liquid into a strainer. Sometimes you have to wait for a liquid to pass through the strainer slowly before you can add more. As we meditate and reflect on God’s Word, it’s as if those words and that information is being poured into our hearts and minds slowly, and its reach is thorough and deep. This allows His Word to get beneath the surface of our mind and seep into our heart, and there water the seeds of change and growth.

Much like with eating, our body needs time to digest and assimilate the nutrients from the food in order for us to benefit from it. Meditation on God’s Word is like spiritually digesting what we read so that we can benefit from it fully.

The Bible talks a lot about meditation, especially in the book of Psalms, as King David was obviously an avid meditator: “I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night.”1 “I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.”2 “I will meditate on your precepts, and contemplate your ways.”3

Here’s something I read recently:

Moses also knew a thing or two about getting alone with God. He had several million people sitting out in the middle of the desert, waiting on him and tearing their hair out, wondering, “What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? Where are we going? What are we going to do?” And what did Moses do? He climbed to the top of a mountain and stayed there alone with the Lord for 40 days!4

Jesus also had to take time away from the crowds, and even away from His disciples and friends to commune with God and receive the strength He needed to go forward and accomplish His purpose: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”5,6

It can be hard work getting quiet!

God says to us, “Be still, and know that I am God”7 and “in quietness and confidence is your strength!”8 We have to make time to be quiet, though. 1 Thessalonians 4:11 even says that we need to “study to be quiet.”9

Maybe you’ve tried taking some quiet time with God, and the minute you’re still and waiting, your mind gets hit with hundreds of thoughts, worries, or reminders. If that’s the case, it may help to have some props to help you to get into that restful mode. I’ve found that music clears my mind, so I’ve put together a playlist of songs that help me do this. Each person is different, though, and you’ll have to discover how you enjoy meditating and what works best for you right now. Just realize that those preferences or methods may change as you or your situation changes.

For example, if sitting still and doing nothing makes you antsy, then you could try meditating while on a walk or a bike ride. Or if being outdoors doesn’t do it for you, find a cozy spot in your house or someplace else you enjoy being, and take your quiet time there. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you are when you’re meditating, the idea is to take some time alone, where it is just you and God. Don’t put pressure on yourself to accomplish anything during this time or to experience any specific feelings; just enjoy the quiet, think on God’s love and goodness, and see what it does for you.

Here’s a meditation exercise you could try, to help you to get into that quiet mood:

Imagine a scene of a confusing, noisy city in rush hour, with horns blaring, hundreds of people rushing along the sidewalks and crossing the streets, just general mayhem and confusion. But now close the door on that scene and open another door that introduces you to a scene of fields of grass and beautiful flowers, or a scene of undiscovered waterfalls where everything is lush and pure and clean. Or a scene of towering majestic mountains with their snowcapped peaks, where views are breathtaking and there is always a refreshing breeze.

The world is here for you to enjoy, to appreciate, and to help you connect with God. He is in all of the beautiful creation around you‚ and by appreciating it, you are appreciating Him.10

I think there is something magical about meditation. When I’m alone and silent with God, I feel Him nearer. Meditation helps to bring my mind and heart closer to God’s. It gives me greater understanding of His Word and helps me align my perspectives with His and live my life as I believe He wants me to.

  1. Psalm 63:6 NLT
  2. Psalm 77:12 NIV
  3. Psalm 119:15
  4. See Exodus 34:28.
  5. Mark 1:35 NIV
  6. David Brandt Berg (1919–1994)
  7. Psalm 46:10
  8. Isaiah 30:15 NLT
  9. KJV
  10. Maria Fontaine