Creating more quiet time

Five ways to invite solitude and self-reflection into your life:

1. Wake up earlier. The morning hours are conducive to prayer, reading and solitude. Avoid postponing scripture study and meditation until right before bedtime, when the mind and body are fatigued and less receptive.

2. Give your ears a break. Find areas within your daily routine where you can replace noise with quiet. For example, turn the car stereo off during one stretch of your commute or put the iPod away for an hour.

3. Designate time without distractions. Set aside a period of time when you can avoid interruptions. This can be anything from closing the office door to just turning off the cell phone for a half-hour.

4. Go for a walk. Quiet neighborhoods or parks are ideal, but even a walk around the city can be effective. Take time to recognize and appreciate the surrounding environment.

5. Spend more time in nature. The outdoors are an invitation to ponder, says institute instructor S. Michael Wilcox. But remember that phones, boats and all-terrain vehicles often defeat that purpose.