Yep, I’m saying it starts with rest and relaxation…
I’ve talked before in previous posts about ‘how to hear, see and experience God in everyday life’ by some version of relaxing, receiving and relating, then reacting and recounting. (I could add some more ‘re-‘ words in there too. The ‘re-‘ is more than just a memory gimmick, it emphasizes that God is the one initiating the relationship. We re-spond.)
He is already as ‘close as your breath’ (take a few breaths and think about how close that is), without you having to strive or make it happen by some technique, good work, etcetera.
So, what does it look like for you to relax? Now do it.
When I say ‘relax’, don’t hear this as being as quiet as you can, as physically still as you can, as alone as you can. Totally erase the contemplative monk in solitary prayer from your mind–and the kid with folded hands and bowed head silently praying. This type of prayer may be very relaxing for some and incredibly boring and tedious and anything but relaxing (as their minds race and their emotions rush) for others. When I’m praying it can often be anything but quiet, still or calm–when my oldest was 5 he used to think I was “dancing” when I was praying–I’d like to think that’s what I’m doing. Also, I’ll often have great conversations with God while working out or windsurfing (I can explain the ‘science’ behind this later), or surrounded by people and lots of noise.
What we do with our bodies matters, but for now pay more attention to your thoughts and emotions. I’ve found that the more relaxed I am the more I can pay attention to what is going on around me with more ease and less strain. When my mind is pre-occupied with either major or mundane things, when I’m anxious, stressed, angry, feeling sad it is more difficult for me to be present in a situation and pay attention to other people. Just ask my kids what its like to relate to me when I’m relaxed versus not.
So, instead of trying harder to focus more, find the right technique, striving to connect with God, experiment this week with doing things that are relaxing. This can be during a time set aside to pray (hang out) with God, it can be just in the rhythm of normal everyday life and routines, finding little ways to relax as you go through your day and become more aware of God around you. And as you relax receive, relate and interact with God and see what happens.