I’m a big fan of Quiet Time. That might be meditation, prayer, or just sitting in the back yard watching the birds as the sun comes up.
And I’ve written on several occasions about how I’ve solved problems through Quiet Time. But some people confuse these activities.
Meditation/Prayers/Quiet Time is not an active attempt to solve a problem. It is not intended as a time for you to sit down and think about your problems or attempt to come up with an answer.
Quiet Time is a process of training your mind to escape from the noise of everyday life. Stop the whirring engine that’s constantly juggling problems from work and home. Stop worrying about finances. Stop planning the next picnic. Stop analyzing the news.
Stop twittering and instant messaging and the “always on” communication.
Let me give you two relevant quotes:
“Accessing wisdom requires little more than the confidence in knowing that when you quiet your mind, your mind isn’t turned off.”
“One of the strange laws of the contemplative life is that in it you do not sit down and solve problems: You bear with them until they solve themselves.”
— Thomas Merton
We all get overwhelmed from time to time. I’ve been working through some problems in my personal life recently. And after years of spending time praying and meditating, I find it hard to do sometimes.
Problems beg to be solved. But at some point, your conscious mind has done all it can do.
It takes persistence and practice to sit down and NOT think about problems. The closer you can get to thinking about nothing, the more your mind has a chance to put all the puzzle pieces back together.
When you try really, really hard to solve a problem, you add force and tension to the issue. Relaxing and taking a step back will allow that tension to subside.
It seems to me that many problems exist because I have build a shell around myself. I have a public image, or a boss image, or a parent image. I want certain things to happen, even if I can’t articulate why.
And that shell is not ME. It is just outside of who I am. Many “problems” are really just a realization that there’s too much space between the real me and the shell I’ve built around myself.
As a result, problem solving doesn’t consist merely of action on my part, but of a realization that I need to relax and let that shell dissolve. What’s left is me. And I’ll build another shell. If I’m lucky it will be a lot closer to who I am than the last shell.
. . .
And all of this is a lot harder than you might think!
In other words, sitting in a chair doing nothing may be the hardest work you do all day!