Question: how can I make time for the Lord in my life when I barely have time for myself?
The expansion of my life over the course of the last four years to include a husband and three children, now ages one, two, and four, has required a complete transformation of the way I care for my spiritual wellbeing.
“Sweep the path clean every day,” a chapter title in the book The Yoga of Discipline by Swami Chidvilasananda, is an essential directive I’ve adopted for my spiritual survival.
What happens on days that I don’t "sweep the path?" Clouds of anxiety, anger, doubt, and despair quickly set in. I forget that the sun is shining on the far side of them. If this weren’t enough, unkind actions, as raindrops from these clouds, spatter my day causing slippery conditions that leave us all hurt.
Even in the darkest of weather systems, there is always a space between the clouds, between the water droplets—a way to the sun. The power of my attention directed to that space makes clearer my sense of it.
It is less a matter of creating time for the Lord as it is using different techniques to find the space where the Lord already is flowing into my life.
There are many ways to find this space, to clear the path. The consuming conditions of my life currently bear the question, “How little can I do and still manage to find that space?”
In a day, I might read one chapter from the Word over breakfast. Or I’ll read one quote from a daily email and let the message of the quote sink in while I take just one breath (check out New Church Daily Inspiration or Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations).
I once taped little signs around my house reminding me to take a sacred pause—a breath, a moment of eye contact in a mirror—to connect in, to focus my energy deep into the presence of the Lord in my heart.
“At any moment, even in the midst of our thoughts, we can drop into the Self…The Self is so present in our ordinary experience that we can contact it merely by focusing on the gap between one breath and another or one thought and another” (Swami Durgananda, The Heart of Meditation, p 34).
“By teaching the mind to pause between thoughts, by practicing this in a disciplined manner, you will be able to watch your mind become purer and healthier and stronger…you will live in the presence of God, the energy of God” (Swami Chidvilasananda, The Yoga of Discipline, p 197).
The most efficient recipe I’ve found over these last four years is: read from a sacred text, meditate, journal—nine minutes of each. Less than half an hour of time invested makes for a day’s worth of feeling centered.
I find that whenever I connect in to that space its effect is to reorient my life, my focus, to love.
“It is true that the Lord is actually present with every individual, but he is closer or farther from us to the exact extent that we approach love or distance ourselves from it” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven 1038).
“If you meditate every day, even for a few minutes, even for a few seconds, you will have this very strong experience of how much love is inside your heart, how much God loves you” (Swami Chidvilasananda, The Yoga of Discipline, p 204).
“Love is itself the highest goal of meditation because the very fabric of the Absolute is love” (Swami Durgananda, The Heart of Meditation, p 39).
The Lord is always present in my life. Simple ways of connecting to an inflow of love and peace are many. The lesson and mercy I find in this practice is how the path needs sweeping every day. Each day is a fresh opportunity to take a moment and center my heart and life in love, no matter what the weather.
“Once you experience this gift of meditation, you will never want to trade it for anything else. In fact, it becomes your compass, your gauge. You always know where to go to find deep tranquility. This is God. This is supreme love. This is the highest knowledge” (Swami Chidvilasananda, Courage and Contentment, p 67).
Chelsea is an assistant editor for New Church Connection, and an editor and writer for NewChurchPerspective.com. Strongly influenced by the traditions of Yoga and Swedenborgian Christianity, she has a passion for studying and sharing how the teachings of these two traditions coalesce into a practical way to experience the Lord’s presence on a daily basis. She lives with her husband and their three young children in Glenside, PA.