Take 1 minute and write down everything that’s filled your mind today. No, really, do it! To-do list items, random passing thoughts, decisions that have to be made, obstacles to overcome, relationships that need work, heartaches weighing you down, anything at all that you thought about. (Just make sure you set a timer or you might write for 1 hour instead!)
Now take a look at the sheer number of things you wrote down. So much noise in your mind! No wonder you feel exhausted and in need of a mental break!
We all have our favorite ways to take a mental break and try to quiet (or temporarily escape) all the noise in our minds. What’s your favorite diversion? Facebook, tv, exercise, coffee, conversation, sleep, music? These can all be good things. There is a time and place for them.
But here’s what we need to realize.
Mental diversions will never change your thought patterns. They cannot quiet the noise in your mind.
When your mental diversion is over and you step back into real life, you’re in the same place. Nothing has changed. These things promise what they cannot deliver. They’re kind of like cotton candy. It tastes good to the mouth, makes you want more, but in the end, is of no nutritional value.
But here’s the good news!
You can decide what fills your mind.
Not what ENTERS your mind but what FILLS your mind. This is a skill that takes practice and discipline. And, quite frankly, I believe that it has never been harder to do this than it is today. Why? Because of the way that media, technology, and multi-tasking have changed our brains. Our brains literally look and act differently today than they did even just a few decades ago.
Philip Yancey recently wrote an article where he asserts the same thing. Here’s how he says it.
The Internet and social media have trained my brain to read a paragraph or two, and then start looking around. When I read an online article from the Atlantic or the New Yorker, after a few paragraphs I glance over at the slide bar to judge the article’s length. My mind strays, and I find myself clicking on the sidebars and the underlined links. Soon I’m over at CNN.com reading Donald Trump’s latest tweets and details of the latest terrorist attack, or perhaps checking tomorrow’s weather. …A dozen or more clicks later I have lost interest in the original article.
Neuroscientists have an explanation for this phenomenon. When we learn something quick and new, we get a dopamine rush. …In a famous experiment, rats keep pressing a lever to get that dopamine rush, choosing it over food or sex. In humans, emails also satisfy that pleasure center, as do Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat.
Our minds no longer know how to think long or deeply. It will require time and effort to retrain them. But it can be done. How?
Through biblical meditation.
Biblical meditation is more than just reading Scripture or truth. It’s even more than having a quiet time. Here is a simple definition of meditation that will help us think through what this really is.
Thinking Scripture in the context of your life and talking to Jesus about it.
Here’s the key. You take truth and you bring it together with what is actually happening in your daily life. Think back to the list you wrote at the beginning. What would it look like for you to show love to someone who is getting under your skin right now? What would it look like if you had peace in the midst of a tough situation?
It can be so easy to hear truth and even pray truth without putting the truth together with what is actually happening in our lives. But this is what will make the difference. This is what the enemy wants to keep from happening. Priscilla Shirer in her devotional, The Armor of God, says,
The enemy is after your mind. He wants to section off the things of God, truths of God, and the voice of God from your everyday life.
This is part of the work of biblical meditation. Doing the work to think long and deeply about truth and Scripture as it relates to your everyday life and the events that are actually creating the noise in your mind.
As you do this, you can actually rewire your brain and change how your mind thinks about life. You can change the connections and neural pathways in your mind. You can actually remove faulty ways of thinking and fleshly perspectives and replace them with truth, God’s reality and God’s perspective on life. You can, in fact, quiet the noise and not just try to escape it. How exciting!
(For a fascinating read on the neuroscience behind it all, get a copy of Switch On Your Brain by Dr Caroline Leaf, a Christian neuroscience whose passion is to prove the truth contained in God’s Word through neuroscience discoveries. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot!)
What one idea stood out to you as you read this? How could biblical meditation impact your life? Take a minute to think about the impact practicing biblical meditation could have in your daily life. Then ask God to prepare your heart for whatever it is He wants to do in you.
Take a minute to think about the impact practicing biblical meditation could have in your daily life. Then ask God to prepare your heart for whatever it is He wants to do in you.
There’s another effect to biblical meditation that we’ll look at in Part 2 of this series. What you think, what your mind dwells on, impacts every other part of you. Again, the truth of Scripture is being validated.
For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Proverbs 23:7a (NASB)
When we choose to think Scripture in the context of our life, it quiets the noise in our minds, changes our attitudes, gives health to our body and calms the chaos in our soul. What a gift!
This post is the first in a four part series.
Practice Biblical Meditation & Quiet the Noise in Your Mind (this post)
You can find resources in the FREE Resource Library to help you practically implement the ideas in these posts. (See post #4 for more details.)
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