Is the world feeling a little soulless to you right now? People are showing their true colors on social media, rhetoric is rampant, hate crimes are on the rise, and our hearts are racing with wondering what is going to happen next. In this environment, peace feels like an ideal that is out of reach.
I have found the only things to quiet my mind in these chaotic times are spiritual practices. My escapist tactics, like scrolling through social media, incite more anxiety and threaten to dismantle relationships rather than help me escape. Shutting off the chatter and allowing silence is something many of us are longing for. When we become still, we can notice, sense, and know God. When we do this as a spiritual practice, we become more contemplative and open our minds to God’s inclusive mission in the world: to love God and love others.
While contemplative practices allow us to connect to God, they also open our hearts and minds to how God may be calling us to serve at this time. Every day, opportunities abound to be an instrument of love. God may be waiting for you to get still enough to hear instructions for your next step.
Here are some ways to be still and begin to know:
Taking a few deep breaths can remind us that we are all breathing the same air. Republicans, Democrats, Independents—the same air particles are circulating through all of our lungs. We are connected and breathing together. We can intentionally inhale peace and exhale peace. Try this breath work: On the inhale picture the words “I am” and on the exhale “at peace.” This practice is fast-acting and transforms your state of mind.
Place your hand on your heart and feel your heartbeat as blood flows through you. Every human heart is made of chambers, valves, arteries, and veins. The person who doesn’t look like you on the outside has a heart exactly like yours, functioning in the exact same way as your heart functions. Allow your heart to feel a connection to other hearts. Feel compassion for others as their hearts are beating in time with yours. Release the prejudice you may hold—feel only love for every beating heart.
Fasting From News
Hooked on politics? Try fasting from your news feed. Change your morning habits into contemplative practices. As you wake up to start your day, resist checking the news. Instead, begin the day with a moment of silence, or prayer, or music that feeds your soul. As you wash your face or take a shower, see the water as a sign of renewal and a new start. Hear nothing but the water from the faucet and notice it as it runs through your hands. Fast from noise and news in the morning, and instead be present with God to begin the day.
Align with Purpose
In the first moments of your day, align with your purpose by saying “God use me as an instrument of your love today.” Remind yourself throughout the day that your purpose is to be an instrument of God’s love. And conclude your day with “God, thank you for allowing me to be an instrument of your love today.” This practice will not only transform your day, it will transform the days of those you encounter.
Listen for Your Calling
You have a divine assignment. Your skills, talents, gifts, resources, and experiences have made you uniquely positioned for your assignment. We are living in a time where all voices can be heard. As you pray, ask God to show you where your voice is needed, who you are to serve, and what you are uniquely made to do. And then listen. Pay attention to the messages around you. Notice the coincidences. Connect the dots. You will find God is messaging you to show you the way. Tune in and find the courage to say yes.
Imagine the Possibilities
Imagine you are floating above your life, observing yourself and the world around you. You see people making decisions from a place of love for one another, you see humanity at peace, you see love radiating through the earth. Imagine the possibilities of things going right instead of wrong. Imagine the strength of the weak increasing. Imagine the hearts of angry people softening and opening to compassion. Imagine the potential for change and growth within every person. Open yourself to the consideration that you have an important role to play in contributing to this new world of love. Imagine the possibilities.
These contemplative practices will allow you to be aware of your connection to God, to see others through a compassionate lens, and to increase your empathy for those around you. When you are living in connection with God and aligned with your purpose, you can quickly detect if your thoughts, words, and actions are coming from a place of love.
The antidote to these chaotic times is readily available to you. Contemplative practices can still your racing mind and allow you to experience peace once again.