I had to have an EEG (electroencephalogram) this week. The purpose of an EEG is to test electrical activity in the brain, and to assess for abnormalities. I suspect that no one, who knows me, is surprised that I needed a test to check for brain abnormalities!
When the dozens of the wires from my scalp to the computer were connected, the technician said, “Wow! Your brain waves are really smooth.” I asked her to repeat herself. “Your brain waves are really smooth.”
Not knowing what a brain wave is supposed to look like, I asked, “Is that unusual?” “Oh yeah.” she said, “Most people’s are really chaotic!”
Let me be clear – the tech did NOT say whether “smooth” brain waves are a good or a bad thing. She did not say that whether “smooth” or “chaotic” is a better sign of brain health. Frankly, at that moment, I was just glad to hear that my brain was producing any waves at all! I’m not always sure!
Let’s assume for a moment that having “smooth” brain waves is a good thing (I’m hoping that is the case). I’m imagining the smooth stillness of a pool undisturbed water. I’m imagining peace and tranquility. I like peace and tranquility.
Then imagine some punk kid throwing rocks into your pool, or maybe jumping in like a cannon ball, wrecking your “smoothness” with a big splash, crashing waves and endless ripples. Imagine rock after rock, cannon ball after cannon ball, endlessly disrupting your “smoothness.”
I feel like this happens a lot. Did I mention that I really like peace and tranquility?
Interruptions. Distractions. Pressures. Surprises. Annoyances. Noises. Fears. Complaints. Emergencies. Bad news.
For the moment, I am assuming that “smooth” brain waves is a good thing – at least, that is what I am hoping! If so, then I wonder if that is why things like rest, Sabbath, prayer, contemplation and meditation, stillness, and silence are such good things. The world around us creates chaos, that we inevitably internalize. Sometimes we create our own mental chaos, from busy-ness or worry. When our inner life reflects the chaos of our outer lives, I suspect we need to be intentional about seeking “smoothness.”
I could be wrong, of course. My “smooth brain waves,” might be the evidence of what we have all suspected – a lack of sufficient mental activity. But, regardless of what the doctor says, I suspect I am right about the need to regularly “smooth-out” our souls and psyches by inviting the Spirit to still us, silence us, and “smooth” us.
As the old hymn says,
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
So, how smooth are your waves?