Most of us are full of activities every minute of the day. We are busy doing one thing or the other. Some of these activities may not even be necessary or relevant. They may not just be adding value to our lives but may even be counter-productive. We do them in order to survive or to please others. Today’s professionals, business executives and politicians are under pressure to succeed. The depressing economic environment has tended to increase the pressures of life. Several long meetings are held in companies with strong coffee and buscuits to keep members mentally alert. These pressures also result in cardiovascular and other diseases. Life expectancy continues to be compromised.
I know that in Lagos, where I live, some workers leave home around 6.00am and return around 8.00pm after wadding through the Lagos traffic. I had that experience in the late seventies when I was working at Apapa and living at Maryland. The situation has not changed much.
This type of life, with its never-ending anxieties, worries and stress cannot easily allow quality quiet time, silence and meditation. But it is in this mental silence that we can access our hidden consciousness. We must find time to be alone and maintain silence. In order to achieve silence, we must give up worries about the future and regrets about the past. We must let go some thoughts, emotions and strivings, and foster spirituality and inner communion with God. Silence and meditation can be an antidote to the habit of being continually busy or involved in one sort of meeting or another. Mahatama Gandhi said, “In the attitude of silence…what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.” Martin Farquhar Tipper said, “Well-timed silence has more eloquence than speech.”
Man needs time for meditation and prayer. Daily meditation is necessary to the soul as is nourishment to the body. During this time, we consciously purify ourselves of worldly or personal preoccupations and surrender ourselves wholly to the consciousness of God.
What time do you have to listen to the voice of your sub-conscious? You must stay alone with yourself for a while every day. Great people avoid the company of other people from time to time. They lock themselves up in a room and stay alone to meditate. This is one secret of their achievements. Jesus Christ taught me that lesson. Occassionally, He would leave His disciples and hibernate in a quiet and lonely place. Why did He do that? He wanted to recover and build up spiritual and physical energy. If Jesus, being God, did that, why do you think that, as an ordinary human being, you can continue sapping yourself without replenishment?
You can be more productive in your work, if you do like Jesus from time to time. Take time off your busy schedule to stay alone in a quiet place and listen to your inner self. I assure you that you will surprise yourself. You will receive some suggestions on how to tackle that problem that defied all solutions. Your sub-conscious can give you ideas to surmount some difficulties and overcome hardships. You receive directions on where to go, what to do, the book to read, whom to phone and so on. I must confess here that, as a Christian, I am still trying to understand how the Spirit of God relates with the sub-conscious.
Some people are not comfortable when they are not talking. If there is no person to talk to they pick up their phones. But we should crave the opportunity to talk less. Diogenes Laertius said, “We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.” Charles Caleb Colton also said, “Men are born with two eyes, but only one tongue, in order that they should see twice as much as they say.”
I like to hold meetings with myself as often as possible. For me, the most effective time for meetings is in the morning before the day’s work. Planning is one crucial activity that assures a successful day. Every activity, however insignificant it might be, should be considered. This is a to-do list. Places to go, phone calls to make, text messages to send, letters or articles to write, money to spend, meetings to attend, visitors to receive and so on. In taking decisions on these issues, I consider their health, economic, time, intellectual, and social implications. Knowing full well that my hours in the day are limited and my stamina is declining as a result of age, I prioritise the activities. Sometimes, two or more important activities clash at the same time. In such situations, I hold an equally important meeting with myself to arrive at a reasonable and justifiable decision. I try to avoid unscheduled activites. One benefit of this type of meeting and documentation is that I never forget what I have planned to do each day. I control the day.
There is something about silence. Silence may not necessarily mean soundproofing yourself. It has got to do more with how you listen. That is why Sri Chinmoy said, “Silence is not silent. Silence speaks. It speaks most eloquently. Silence is not still. It leads perfectly.” Once a while, I have experienced silence in church during praise and worship and even sermons. I fail to hear the sounds around me but listen to the inner voice. As I receive any message, I write it down. For this reason, I have my pen and paper at all times.