Is there room for stillness here?

For a number of years, I had the incredible gift of a schedule that made room for rich contemplation.

I worked from home, primarily on a project basis for clients (I’m an editor by trade) while nurturing my vocation as a spiritual director, and out of the space my commitments allowed, I was able to create a structured faithfulness to solitude and silence the first four hours of the day. (Since I’m not a morning person, this usually meant my entrance into the community of the world usually happened around 1PM.)

It was a charmed existence, to be sure, but it also asked something of me. As a contemplative, I knew myself called to pray for the pain of the world, to suffer its burdens on my shoulders before God, and to create meaningful ways for others to connect to God in their daily lives in a society that values noise and distraction above silence and reflection.

Then my commitments changed and I found myself caught up in the push and pull of that same life.

My client work shifted to a more daily routine that capitalized on the morning hours. I started in on a season that kept me chained to my inbox and toggling various web pages at lightning-quick speed in the service of online journalism.

It did a real number on me. I became twitchy and distracted, unfocused and restless. Those long hours of stillness seemed a long-distant memory, as sitting in a posture of receptivity for even a few minutes proved challenging now.

I would listen to the nightly Pray as You Go podcast . . . while playing solitaire on my phone or flipping through Instagram. I would stretch out in bed on the weekend, a huge pile of spiritual reading beside me on the nightstand . . . and binge-watch Netflix instead. I would check Facebook and my inbox incessantly, shaking my leg up and down all the while.

This is normal life. This is how most of us live.

What does stillness and presence look like here? How do we enter prayer? How do we center down? How do we stay connected to ourselves, God, and others?

Lately, I’ve found a few intentional practices helping me:

  • Waking a half-hour early to sit on the couch and read — and choosing not to look at my phone first
  • Listening to the daily Pray as You Go podcast or the daily examen prayer each night before bed — without my phone in hand or other apps open
  • Turning toward bedtime with my husband — and putting my phone away so I can look into his eyes and talk to him face to face
  • Eating dinner together — and not playing the latest episode of our favorite Netflix show while we eat

Those first two, in particular, feel like intentional spiritual practices. They’re chances to invite interior connection with myself, a slower pace, and a reflective posture on the day — both the beginning and ending of it. Those last two help nurture connectedness in community, real intimacy, and our embodied experience of life.

What about you:

How do you maintain a sense of centeredness and presence in the rush of daily life?

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Christianne Squires, M.A., is a writer and spiritual director who lives in Winter Park, FL, with her husband and their two cats. Called to work at the intersection of spiritual formation and digital connectivity, she maintains Still Forming, a website offering contemplative reflection and online spiritual direction to seekers around the world. In 2013, she was named a New Contemplative by Spiritual Directors International.

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