[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
Evening quiet time is one of the staples of daily Course practice. Unfortunately, though, I’ve found it difficult to make it a regular part of my practice. After a long and tiring day, it’s so tempting for me to just flop into bed, instead of taking the time to focus my mind and enter into quiet communion with my Father. Many Course students I’ve talked to have struggled with the same issue: “I’m too tired to do evening quiet time.” What can we do to overcome our lethargy, and make our evening quiet time the rewarding experience Jesus intends it to be?
Whenever we’re having problems with our Course practice, the first place to look for solutions is the Course itself. Section 16 of the Manual suggests a simple solution to our difficulty with evening quiet time. It says, “Perhaps your quiet time should be fairly early in the evening, if it is not feasible for you to take it just before going to sleep” (M-16.5:2). The section doesn’t elaborate on why our quiet time might not be “feasible” right before bedtime, but one reason suggests itself: we may be too tired at that point to make it worthwhile. I know I’ve sometimes fallen asleep while meditating before going to bed—hardly the peaceful but alert meditation Jesus wants me to have. So, if bedtime drowsiness is a problem for us, we may find it helpful to do our quiet time earlier, when we’re more alert. When bedtime comes, we can then take just a brief moment to connect with God immediately before going to sleep (see M-16.5:8).
I’ve adapted this advice to my unconventional personal schedule, and it has worked wonders for me. I’m a night owl. After a quiet evening relaxing with my wife, Margery, I’ll usually put in another work session at my computer before retiring at one or two in the morning. My old pattern was to try to do my quiet time right before going to bed, and this didn’t work as well as I would have liked. I skipped my quiet time too many times, and fell asleep too often when I did do it. But now, I’m doing it after my evening with Margery but before my late-night work session. (I know this isn’t actually early in the evening, but relatively speaking, it’s early for me.) This has worked a lot better. Since implementing this plan, I’ve done my evening quiet time much more frequently than before, and I’ve felt much more alert while doing it. As a result, my meditations have been more focused, more peaceful, and more rewarding.
It’s amazing what a simple adjustment like this can do. If you find that you’re often too tired to do your evening quiet time, you may want to try doing it earlier in the evening. You may discover, as I have, that this aspect of your practice will really take off as a result. May you find in your evening quiet time the deep peace and communion with God that Jesus wants all of us to have.