Week 2 - Take Time to Notice
"When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul." Psalm 94:19
Don't we want to get quickly to the experience of Psalm 94:19 - where we hear God's consolations and experience the cheer of our souls? But it's not always that simple in practice, is it?
I mean, have you ever found it difficult to fall asleep because you keep thinking about things? Maybe it was what happened at work that day, or a disagreement with a friend. Or perhaps it is thinking about the future - worrying that you might catch COVID, or what is going to happen to your job, your financial situation. Maybe you just couldn't sleep because of sheer excitement!!! In any case, instead of sleeping your mind is keeping you awake with an inner, ultimately unhelpful, dialogue.
From the field of Psychology, we would call this mental activity that keeps us stimulated a part of ourselves called the "Thinking Self". It is the unconscious part of our brain that plans, does, sees, feels and acts. As a general rule, it is very difficult to control this part of our mind and yet, is very easy to spend our time consumed by it. It is the part of our mind that can help us to connect with God but also the part of our mind that can disconnect us when we are distracted or focused on other things. Often we spend time battling this part of our mind, getting frustrated when it doesn't do what we want. However, we also have a different part of our self - an observing part.
This "Observing Self" is the part of us that we draw upon when we notice the thinking part of our brain. It isn't just a straight stream of consciousness - it is the capacity to notice what we are thinking about within. It is the part of our consciousness that says "hey, I am feeling anxious today" or "hey, I am focused on cooking dinner rather than connecting with God".
The beauty of the Observing Self is that it empowers thinking choices within - once we realize what we are doing, observing that our Thinking Self is not focused on God, we have a choice. We can chose to redirect our attention towards God, or we can decide to continue to focus on whatever else is going through our mind. We can notice how the thoughts, feelings, and activity of the Thinking Self is making us feel, and then decide whether we want to continue along this path or instead focus on God.
More importantly - we can use the Observing Self to observe God. We can observe the stillness that comes from connecting with Him - the peace and calm of His presence. Much like the Psalms themselves declare, we can focus on noticing God, engaging with the Holy Spirit and seeking comfort from Him. And in doing so, we just might find the Thinking Self calms right down.
Try it this week - as the Psalmist found in Psalm 73:
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refugee; I will tell of all your deeds - Psalm 73: 28
Written by Ashleigh Crosilla