19 Jun The Rest of Contemplation
Jesus stepped away from the crowds and prayed to His Father.
Modern psychology confirms in scientific terms what eons of religious practice has long held, that rest and contemplation away from the noise of society (be that first century MIddle East or 21st century United States), is vital and restorative to human beings in bringing peace and lower blood pressure, calmed brain activity, and relaxed muscles. Different from sleep, mindful relaxation and contemplative exercise of the brain focused on positive, calming, and higher belief thoughts add to the years of lifespan, relational stability, and overall long term physical health. Sounds great, right?
One of the very first things people add to this quiet place and drawing away from “the maddening crowds” is music, of course.
I have several friends, and many over the years, who write and produce worship music, calm music, still, chill, ambient, lofi – whatever the latest genre is of music that does not intrude into your mental space too actively – and done really well, some even commercially successful in bringing that resource to people for their time away. Sure, we can reminisce with old pop tunes, we can groove with active R&B, or we can play music ourselves as a mental respite from the world’s troubles, but what better way to enjoy summer (or the summer of your week) with slow pulsing, non-agitated, sweeping lushness of good contemplative music. If you are a musician like me, you sometimes resist “relaxation music” because you’re overwhelmed with the overplayed sonority and forced sweetness of the diatonic mileu, but if you want directional and calming help, there is music for you nowadays. And the thoughts don’t have to be premeditated, they will slow as you wait.
Imagine that summer bask on the beach. Or that quiet dark room with a single lamp and a book. Or the wind in your face of the mountain air or cycling invigoration. Heck, just comfy couch and dark chocolate bonbons. Find that place and your music and break yourself from work addiction or stress adaptation or frenzied online comparison. Just listen to God’s voice. Still and small.
Just past that tiny piece of discomforting silence is the creator of the universe, listening to you. Speaking to your heart. Waiting for your rest of contemplation.