Categories: Wednesday ripples 1 Comment

The Spiritual Reset of Our Ways

As an extrovert who has literally fled from a silent retreat, there is perhaps a deep irony that lately I am reflecting on silent practices. Sometimes the things that appear the hardest can draw you into a place of curiosity. In our “always doing, always going, always being” culture, an attempt at stillness and contemplation can seem subversive. What is your worth if you are not achieving something in every moment? Who are we when we are stripped of our labels that we wear to work, school, and in our relationships?

Perhaps this is why the practice of Sabbath, a day of rest, is starting to pop up into people’s awareness again. It is a powerful spiritual reset of our ways of being and there seems precious little room for it in daily life if we don’t set it as an intention. Silent practices and days of rest can look like many things but often contain one of three states: awareness, concentration or surrender. These three portals can open us up to the Holy and often one is a bit easier for us than another.

Awareness practices, like vipassana or breath-based meditation, allow silence to arrive through training our awareness to our bodies and placing our chattering mind into the observer perspective. Concentration practices, such as watching waves or using mantras, give our attention a single point to focus on which can allow the rest of our consciousness to still and rest. Surrender practices, such as contemplative prayer and meditation, allows us to empty our consciousness and practice not following any thoughts or sensations. All three can overlap, but in this busy season try to find one that you practice, even once a week for 10 minutes, and see what it does to your connection to Spirit, and your ability to be present to your life.

As for me, while I am a long way from another silent retreat, I am going to increase my practices and see if any of you have techniques that might be helpful to try.

In peace and stillness,
Rhian Walker

Curious to learn more? Try Going Beyond Words by Lois Huey-Heck or A Taste of Silence by Fr. Carl Arico

Rhian Walker

Rhian Walker is the Minister of Young Adults and Outreach and brings a love for nurturing the spiritual development of those around her. She is passionate about new expressions of church and believes in the power of spiritual practice and community to transform the suffering in our communities and our world. She has a Masters of Public and Pastoral Leadership from the Vancouver School of Theology, an MA in Philosophy, Religion and Literature from Sussex University and a BA in Philosophy and Creative Writing from UVic. The concept of the open table is at the heart of what she feels is transformative about the United Church along with its commitment to true inclusion. She previously served at the lead minister at the Heartwood Community Café, an LGBTQ social enterprise run by Trinity United, Minister of Outreach and Formation at Lynn Valley United in North Vancouver, and as the Conference Minister for LeaderShift, a professional development program that focuses on the inner and outer skills for leading in the United Church. She is an amateur singer and poet, an average gardener, and is truly, shockingly bad at camping despite growing up on the West Coast. She is married to Brandon Walker and has two young children.

One Comment

  1. Rhian, your thoughtful writing, The Spiritual Reset of Our Ways, brought up some thoughts for me. Travelling in Italy this Fall, I saw this sign on a shop window: ‘lunedi siamo chiusi per riposo’ or loosely translated as ‘closed for weekly rest of Monday’. Though we have known the ‘Sabbath’ as a day of rest, it seems to have lost its hold on society now. Our everydays appear not to have near enough hours to do all that needs ‘doing’, especially hard for the younger generations. I wonder might we regain a sense of taking a ‘Sabbath’ day if we would give it a contemporary understanding. As in, ‘Monday we are closed for rest’. I find myself speaking to my adult children in those terms. Riding his bike to work in the dark both ways everyday, I suggest taking a rest day from riding the bike. Working back to back 12 hour shifts, I suggest placing a rest day on the 7th day. Going into work on a Sunday to catch up marking and lesson planning, I ask him to plan a rest day as well. The other thought was around work labels we use to identify our worth. When we retire those labels, how do we self-identify? I may just work at becoming an ‘awareness practitioner’. Thank-you for sharing your insights.

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