Sunday, February 4, 2018

Stop! What's that sound?

Do you need a reminder to put down your smartphone? To pause, breathe deep and realize you are where you are and not virtually everywhere else? Do you routinely forget to unplug and connect to the moment?

Reportedly, there are more than 1,000 apps available to help smartphone users remember to meditate or embrace peace and silence. One such electronic bell tower, Headspace has more than 18 million users. Then there's WeCroak which sends subscribers five messages a day so they don't forget they're going to die. Seriously. It's one of the top 10 apps in the health and fitness category. I wrote a spiritual book encouraging readers to embrace mortality as a key to happiness (Dying to Be Happy: Discovering the Truth About Life). My wife, Ellen's, breast cancer diagnosis in 2014 was a big enough whiff of death to get my attention for good and it inspired me to share that liberating emotion in the book. My research quickly revealed that Jesus was ever mindful about human mortality and spent much of his Gospel reminding us of this undeniable reality. We are not getting out of this life alive. 

But the Jewish Messiah also frequently made solitude a priority. He often snuck away from the crowds, far away, where he relaxed and prayed. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” he told his followers. (Mark 6:31) 

Regardless of your faith or lack there of, that's unbeatable advise for quality of life. How much time do you spend unplugged everyday? Are you aware that today could be your last? Why don't you spend more time quietly alone?

Silence is a golden gift, but it requires courage. When I meditate for five minutes every morning, invariably I "hear" things in my head that are revealing about who I am, what I've done, said, and failed to do and say. The more time I take to sit in a quiet place the more I understand my life. I hear things others said to me that I really missed in the moment. I've discovered that information is not knowledge. With so much IT available, it's easy to confuse data with discernment or volume with veracity. 

My personal experience is that once you make time to be silent you will crave it. It is a rare space in today's world where ubiquitous technology buzzes and hums even when muted. For at least a few minutes a day, you  deserve to hear the sound of nothing but your heartbeat,  the rhythm of your body as it trades carbon dioxide for oxygen in a symbiotic relationship with all other living things. You might just hear the voice of your creator. 

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