May 04, 2015
When we think of Quiet Time or meditation, probably the first thing that comes to mind is someone sitting on the floor with their legs crossed up at the thighs, sitting upright with their hands on their knees and thumb and finger touching, eyes closed, and oblivious to the world.
Well, in 55 years or more in daily Quiet Time, Meditation, Prayer time, and many other names I have used over the years, I have never sat on the floor like that. First of all, my knees would not take that kind of stretch, and I have found it extremely uncomfortable any time I have attempted anything like that, even sitting on the floor, and anything uncomfortable takes one, at least takes me, far from the space I want to be when working on my sixth sense.
In this discussion, I will be discussing the ‘how’ of a Quiet Time, using many sources I have read to draw inspiration, but mostly based on my 50+ years of daily Quiet Time. Later we will discuss the ‘what’ of Quiet Time.
In the beginning (about 1958) I had no name like Quiet Time. It was my daily prayer time, as that what it was called then. Like many Roman Catholics at that time, it began with the daily rosary, a rhythmic saying of five sets of ten Hail Mary’s prayers and associated prayers. This took about 12-15 minutes. I also found the time to go to Mass during the week once or twice a week, besides the Sunday time. I found comfort in this, even in college, and since I went to Catholic University (University of Dayton), no one found it strange to see me in the chapel, and I continued this practice when I started my first job, as there always seemed to be a Catholic church within driving distance that had a Mass around noon. So I was using various means to talk to my God (I had not learned how to listen to God at that time) even before my experience in 1967.
In 1965 I became part of a group that met every week, where part of the practice was to talk briefly about our daily prayer time, as well as action, so it became self-supported with these weekly meetings. These meetings gave me the ongoing support I needed, and I rarely missed these meetings as I felt I needed that support, as our family grew and the needs of my career grew, making it more difficult to find the time. These meetings continued for 20+ years, and firmly cemented the concept and necessity of daily prayer time in my psyche.
After my experience with God in December of 1967, my whole attitude with my Quiet Time changed to a different perspective. Where before I would pray set rote prayers, my time now with God, my Eternal Wisdom, became a two-way conversation, where I would talk to God, and God would answer, not in words so much (even though thoughts would appear on occasion that I knew were not my thoughts, but my Eternal Wisdom guiding me), but in feelings, words read or spoken to me or even overheard, leading to decisions that became very clear as to what we should be doing. Usually the Eternal Wisdom would speak to me through others, many times my wife, or through something I had read that would stick in my head and not let go.
And so it went through the years for me, moving around different methodology and being led to different experiences that would further and increase my awareness of the presence of God in my daily life. My times and places for these moments of Quiet Time over the 50+ years changed constantly, depending on free time or family and career commitments. The principle behind the process is not what or how one finds the time, it is the relevance and commitment of the time spent each and every day.
Finding the Time
Finding the time to spend talking with God is perhaps the most difficult part of the commitment. Eventually I needed 30 minutes or more each day, and I used many references to fit the time period into my schedule. The most commonly used time was the lunch period, when I would pack a lunch each morning (another sneaky time to find five minutes or so to dedicate the day to God), often sit in the car (I drove to the office each day) no matter what the weather, eat my lunch, read, and discuss my life with my Eternal One. If possible, I would head of to a church that I knew would be open, and spend time there, often if no one was present, sitting on the altar steps to have a close conversation, wait for an answer, (which always came in one form or another), and move on.
Another time that many of us have is when traveling to and from the office. That period of time can be spent just listening to the voice of God that surrounds us at all times. Short repetitive prayers are to be used, so that proper attention is paid to the task of driving. Of course, if you use public transportation it is easier to zone out and place oneself in the Divine Presence, and since public transportation, especially at ‘rush hour’ when most of us are traveling, seeing the Presence of the Eternal One in each person we are with is an added benefit, especially in those who seem irritable, sad, pushy, or portraying other emotional levels that indicate some type of personal pain.
Of course, rising early or just before bedtime are other times that are useful, and I have used both methods when the day was full. It is a good practice upon rising to give thanks to God for another day to see the Eternal One in all things around me, yes, even in the dirty diaper if that is where life is at, for the life you see and touch before you is one of greatest miracles of all.
From my experience it is always possible to find the period of time needed for this daily effort. The problem is to devote that period to having the conversation with God, and not finding something else to fill the time, such as watching the news or a sports event on tv, or just mind filling things like a television show or book, but taking the time to squirrel oneself away for the mind-expanding event of joining with the Eternal Wisdom for a visit.
One of the best ways to have a place that draws you into the sacred zone is to set up a Sacred Space somewhere in the home, or to have a “traveling sacred space” to be able to set up anywhere. I have used both approaches, especially when traveling so much for business. One of the better ways at home is to have a corner of a room with a small table and a picture, statue, or other holy scene and a candle to set the tone. I went through many a votive candle, and many a smaller or larger candles over the years just for that purpose. I traveled with a votive candle and a cloth, and I would clear an area and spread the ‘sacred’ cloth over the desk in the hotel room, light the candle, and do whatever I had in mind during that time and place. The ‘Eastern’ traditions strongly urge a ‘sacred space’ to be kept in the home, and growing up in the 40s and 50s my parents kept such a space in the living room of our house, as this was a fairly common practice at that time.
My sacred space at home now is in the living room, where I am blessed with a view over the high rolling hills of the foothills of the mountains lying to the East. On a clear day I can see for about thirty miles, and when it snows the beauty is breathtaking. We are surrounded by forests, but living on top of the 500-foot hill and with some judicious clearing, our view sweeps across the country side in a panorama that always can lift my soul into a new space. But I have often used a candle to infuse that space, and when it is late at night or early in the morning, the magic fills that space and it is easy to put oneself into communion with the Divine Wisdom.
I try to sit in a comfortable position, and as I said before, I am not comfortable sitting on the floor, but prefer a comfortable chair or the couch, where I can sit or lie back and be at physical peace. I have found it important to have a space where I am comfortable, can breath easily and deeply to clear the mind and body, sitting or lying with my back straight as I can comfortably be, in such a position that I do not have to be concerned about my position.
The Lotus position, with the legs crossed and locked, back straight and hands on knees, was developed to provide a position of strength and openness, allowing open breathing and open spirit without having to pay attention to the body; but as I have said, I have never used that position, but I do try to keep my upper body open and relaxed as possible, even when lying down.
There is no “correct” position for quiet time.
One trick I was taught to keep my spine erect but not stiff is the following: While sitting comfortably but erect in a chair, Place your hand, open, on the top of your head. Now with a slight pressure of the hand, ‘pull’ your head straight up. You will feel a slight lengthening of the spine. Bring the hand from the head, and you will feel a firming of the spine and head, then go into Quiet Time and let your self sink into the Spirit.
There were times when our children were growing up and the house was seemingly always in an uproar, that I would take a bedroom that had been emptied (our children were born over a 17 year period) and set up the Sacred Space in a corner, ready to move when all came home. And yes, there are many times when the family descends in large groups (a family reunion including cousins can reach over 50) that such space is not possible, then the joining with the Divine Wisdom becomes part of the blessed chaos going on in that moment.
God speaks to us in many ways and in many forms. It is still surprising when in the middle of some event such as a family get-together I sense the Divine Spirit present in the middle of music, laughing, good food, and loving attention among all. Taking the time there to step back just a little and letting the Divine Joy fill my soul is all the space I need, for that then flows around and in me for some time.
That is ‘Quiet Time’ in the essence.
Divine Spirit, you fill our lives daily with the essence of your Being. Our problem has always been to quiet the five senses so we can hear and feel Your presence in the wider spectrum of our sixth sense, even when the five senses are filled with activity. You have given us the essence of Quiet Time to hone our sixth sense so it is as active as our five ordinary senses. I can not express enough gratitude for these lessons you have given me in learning to see Your Presence in all things. We live our lives in what is seemingly a lonely atmosphere, and I am especially grateful for learning to sense Your active presence at all times, even when alone or when surrounded by many. You grant us the time and space needed if we wish, and this time spent in conscious awareness talking and listening to You over the years has granted me the wisdom and knowledge of Your Being in ways that can not be put into words, but expressed in feelings and a sense of awareness.
I rest myself into your Being, and content myself with the knowledge that all is indeed well, and that all will be well in the future.