I will be the first to admit, it’s hard for me to quiet myself for any amount of time. Seems like I always have something to do and can’t sit still for too long. But our constant busyness is one reason we have too much stress. Recently, I blogged about physical ways to destress and help you relax. Now, let’s talk about a few more ways to take care of stress. Because we are body, mind and spirit, spiritual approaches help with stress as well. Spiritual practices help us slow down and focus our mind on things above.

Mindfulness

Let’s begin with mindfulness. In Christian mindfulness, you focus away from your anxious or stressful thoughts to the present moment. This requires a focused attention exercise— a way to stop all the noise in your head that is distracting you and making you feel stressed. To begin, just breathe! Notice your breathing as a way to change your focus. Then mediate on God, His presence and His care for you. Accept His grace and rest in His presence. You can also incorporate prayer. Prayer meditation has been the practice of the church for all time. Prayer calm us down when we are stressed and anxious. We see this in brain imaging studies. With prayer and meditation, we look to Jesus, the person of our meditation, and focus our mind on good things as instructed in Philippians 4:8.

Music Meditation

Music mediation is a stress reducer. I sang in the choir and we did a number of contemplative pieces of music like Mozart’s Ave Verum and the classical piece, O Nata Lux. Both are stunningly beautiful pieces of music. Each week as we practiced these pieces, I noticed how stress left me during those rehearsals. The therapeutic use of music affects the tiny muscles of the middle ear connected to the vagus nerve. You can train your ear to music and in the process help regulate your nervous system.This “tuning” is calming. So next time you are stressed, listen to a beautiful piece of music, absorb yourself in it and notice the distressing effect.

Lectio Divina

This is actually a practice I first learned when teaching at Wheaton College. Lectio Divina means “divine reading.” It was practiced by monks in the 6th century and is a beautiful way to read the Scriptures. Here is what you do: 1) Choose a passage of Scripture, e.g., Psalm 121. Read it through to simply get the feel of the passage. 2) Now read the passage again. This time, meditate on the passage, listening to the Holy Spirit and any word or phrase that stands out. 3) Read the passage a third time. This time, turn your meditation to prayer. Share your heart and draw near to the Lord. 4) Read the passage one last time in a contemplative way as you rest in God’s presence.

When you need to destress and slow down from all the busyness, try any or all three of these methods to reduce your stress and calm your spirit. Not only will you relax, but these will strengthen your spiritual life as well.

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