By Delisa Deavenport
Finding and developing your “Quiet” may be the #1 most effective and healthiest thing you can do for yourself. What is your “Quiet”? It is a tranquil place of consciousness where lasting and true transformation can take place. Here, I am talking about something different than just getting silent, although that is one of the first steps to reaching your “Quiet.”
When you find a quiet place to relax and go into silence, amazing things happen to your body physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You begin to heal from all the damage that stress, overloaded responsibilities, sense of urgency, physical loud noises in the environment, and the million thoughts that are flooding the brain’s neurotransmitters. It is no wonder we can get overwhelmed so easily and lose track of our priorities, goals, and visions. Many times, when this happens, we unknowingly slip into a state of depression or anxiety or both.
When my life began to noticeably develop those healthy coping behaviors I had not learned as a child or young adult, I was intrigued. Working with a professional coach, she helped me identify those events in my life where positive change took root. What I begin to realize was that it was in those moments of true quiet meditation, where I emptied my mind and waited for direction and insight, that my mindset shifted. I longed for periods absent of the dramatic chaos I had learned to thrive on. In the past, I never seem to have true change take root, and I now realize that it was because when I got quiet, I begin to daydream, analyze, strategize, and plan out my next steps. In other words, getting still just wasn’t enough. This is the exact opposite of what needs to happen to find the kind of direction that will cause our efforts and life to make sense and have strict clarity on what needs to happen next for real behavior changes.
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In the beginning, I would get quiet and meditate. Sometimes I would find that special place of “Quiet” deep within myself, where transformation took place but most often, I would just give myself a much-needed break from the various types of “noise” that constantly seem to surround me. It wasn’t until I begin to study the Orthodox art of prayer that I realized what was really happening inside me. The key is to transcend your mind into your heart and then clear your mind of ALL thoughts and just listen to your intuition or gut with no preconceived notions of what you want to happen. It is then that part of us holding true integrity and self-value begins to communicate with that part of us, which constantly tries to accomplish the impossible, never quite knowing if we are heading in the right direction.
Theophan the Recluse writes of the art of Orthodox prayer and while studying his writings I realize there are some things we can take from this process of prayer to help us find our “Quiet”. He explains that if you work only with the head, which is constantly filled with thoughts, you can begin to get a headache trying to hold your attention to listening for direction. The key is to let your mind descend into your heart; I actually picture my brain on a elevator going down my neck until it reaches my heart where every single time, my chest is filled with overwhelming warm, emotion and it is a comforting and safe place.
“Mind and heart must be untied; then wandering of thoughts will cease, and you will gain a rudder to steer the ship of your soul, a lever by which to set in movement all your inner world.” – Theophan the Recluse
“The most important ascetic undertaking is to keep the heart from passionate movements and the mind from passionate thoughts while entering and sitting in this “Quiet.” Look into the heart and drive away from it all that is wrong. Prepare your heart for true guidance, uncluttered by human busy thoughts, intentions, and expectations. As Theophan the Recluse states, “Mind and heart must be untied; then wandering of thoughts will cease, and you will gain a rudder to steer the ship of your soul, a lever by which to set in movement all your inner world.”
While his words of wisdom are certainly directed toward the art of Orthodox prayer that brings the Christian into communion with God, I find that much of the practice of finding and sitting in my “Quiet” was obtained by settling into this state of “Heart” even before I began to add prayer. My discovery was that there exists a fascinating power in this special place of mind in the heart, and it made me realize that transformation begins even absent of thoughtful prayer. Imagine the possibilities when this process is developed into the art of prayer. Many great leaders start their morning with spiritual quiet, prayer, study, reading and setting the stage for a most blessed day. Something to think about. It is this primary step that can make all the difference in your day – BEFORE you even sit down at your desk and open your planner.
Delisa Deavenport, MBA, CPC