If you don’t mind doing an exercise with me, take a minute to think about your thoughts. What is going through your mind right now? Are you contemplating eating at Sharkey’s after church, stressing about a difficult conversation you had in the car this morning, thinking about all the laundry you have to do today? If you are anything like me, thoughts about the past and the future constantly stream through your mind.
Recently, I’ve been convicted about this. I read a quote from Dale Carnegie that describes life as an hourglass: our past is the top of the hourglass; our future is the bottom. He said, in order to live a more peaceful life, we need to focus on the “narrow neck,” taking tasks and thoughts one grain of sand at a time so that we don’t cause damage to the structure of our lives. After all, only one grain can pass through the center of the hourglass at a time. That image really stuck with me.
In that spirit, I often try to intentionally experience moments without rehashing the past or worrying about the future. I think about the temperature, I focus on my breath, I take in the sights and sounds around me. I don’t let every seed of thought take root. I started by doing this periodically, but now, I try to take at least ten minutes each day to clear my mind, to meditate. To be honest, when I first started practicing this type of mindfulness, I was afraid that it might take me away from God, but I haven’t found that to be true at all. In fact, since I have been more intentional about quieting my thoughts, I’ve had more mental space to connect with others, and more importantly, to connect to God.
A blog I like, Christian Simplicity, quotes Dallas Willard on the subject. He wrote, “Christian meditation can be as simple as sitting still for ten minutes, breathing easily, and repeating a line of Scripture. Good phrases for this kind of meditation are “Maranatha” and “Be still and know that I am God.” The blog continues, “This kind of meditation renews both our minds and our spirits. It provides a centeredness that helps us listen for God. It also trains us over time to release all the distracting thoughts that occur to us during the average day and refocus on what matters.”
I have really found that to be true. As 2019 buds, I’m trying to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5b). This is a challenging task, and at times, it seems almost impossible to stop fretting and focus on God’s presence in each moment. But, for me, emptying my mind so that He can fill it is a worthy goal. I hope you will join me in the effort to allow our minds to be still and know that He is God.