I was out walking recently and two things got me thinking. Now, that in itself is strange because my walking is normally my chill out, switch off or mull over time. I stroll along noting the different plants and birds, enjoying the sun or the gentle breeze. I normally am not really thinking about anything and that is a good thing. Sometimes I ‘mull over’ a question or an issue but not in a frenetic, anxious way – more just a light throwing around of ideas.
So what got me thinking? What broke my reflective rhythm? The first was a group of teenage boys from a nearby High School riding past. They were riding as a group and ALL seven of them were riding along, mobile phone in hand, reading something on their phones: no talking, no banter, no awareness of the beautiful afternoon. The second took place about forty minutes later as a friend of mine was walking the other way. As we met we stopped and chatted. I shared with him how tired I was and was needing a break. As I spoke it dawned on me that he looked exhausted. He then reflected that he had not had a good holiday in a long time – just grabbing a day here and day there.
Noise! We are surrounded by so much blah blah blah. I almost dread the nightly news, the ‘current affair’ programs and more – so often it is just noise. Rush, there is so much rush everywhere. The mountains of work and tasks to be done grow ever higher, meetings and more meetings, check in’s, reviews and planning, checking in and checking out, performance reviews, strategies ….the list is often endless. And are we any happier than our grandparents or great grandparents who lived in a far more simple world?
I was having a chat with my friend Greg from Chiefmaker recently. Greg hosts a podcast whereby he interviews Professionals and Business Executives about the keys to meaning and ‘success’ in the hustle and bustle of their lives. I have listened to many of the podcasts and it is remarkable how many of them name the need for quiet, for reflection, for rhythm, for space, for balance and the practical skills to ensure they get these things.
As you know I value my morning ‘sit’. Most mornings I rise at about 5.40 am, make myself a cup of coffee and then just ‘sit’ in the Brothers’ prayer space and basically do nothing. I use a method called Centring Prayer. In this method I have a sacred word, I begin with a series of slow deep breaths and then I literally do nothing. The ‘goal’ if you want to talk in terms of goals – is nothingness. I want / seek clear space – silence. Of course, after 8 seconds I am distracted and then that is where my sacred word come in – upon awareness of the distraction I simply become aware of it, honour it and then let it go with the gentle use of my sacred word. A very simple process. Of course, I am distracted again 21 second later – and then I just repeat my process.
I love this space. I come from it refreshed. This space allows the love energy of my life (my God) to wrap arms around me. It allows wisdom to gently surface and nudge me (often unconsciously). I find myself less reactive, more present and more balanced in my day from my sit.
I love my weekends. I have discovered that Damien needs ONE day in the week when he does little to nothing. I literally ‘potter about’ – I might do a load of washing, water my garden, go for a walk, call a friend, read a book, have a nap – whatever. But the foot is off the peddle, the pressure is off – I am just soaking in life and allowing it to embrace me.
Then there is the need for longer periods to nurture body, mind and spirit. I certainly claim one week when I do a personal retreat and then there is my three week annual holiday. I find that I need both of these. I need that personal retreat to just give my God time and space to whisper to me in a more deliberate and focussed way. It is almost like putting your car in for a service, a grease and oil change – perhaps a change of tyres. And then my annual holiday is that gift to my body of slow rhythm – it often takes the first week for the hands to lose their slight shake, the mind to stop racing and the sleep and rest patterns to form. But the focus returns, the body heals and the spirit is freshened to take on the battles and struggles and along with the joys – that are life.
Next weekend I will gift myself with a six week space of Sabbath. Sabbath is a term from the Old Testament which refers to a time of rest and solitude, leaving the field of rush and bustle lay fallow and resting mind, body and spirit for the journey ahead.
So some personal time each day – some block of personal time each week – a longer block of time and space each year and then when you listen to what your body and spirit are saying – some Sabbath time to celebrate you!