This Peaceful Place

Where Do You Wind Down?

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

In the "Devotional" series

Our complex society winds us up long before the morning alarm clock and keeps us strung taught well past midnight. Migraines, stomach pains, and even weight gain (due to high levels of cortisol during stressful moments) are symptoms that we need to pull back and wind down.

Where do you wind down?

Some people create a "sacred space" in their house. It might be a closet, a special chair, or even an altar they create with candles, photos, and accessories that cause them to pause, and to gaze beyond the limits of this world.

This past weekend everyone in our family was showing signs of stress. My granddaughter was getting sassy and bossing us around (yikes!). Then she had a bout with stomach pain, while I massaged a migraine from my cervical spine, being out of alignment. That's when I realized we all needed to take a deep breath and get some stress relief.

Last evening we went to the local pool, which also has a sauna. Since ancient times our elders have known the power of sweating out the toxins, both in our bodies and in our souls.

When I lived among the Lakota, we entered a homemade sauna – called a sweat lodge – in the backyard. It was not only a place to relax and be healthy, but a place of intimacy with God and each other. As we entered the sweat lodge, we each said, "And all my relations," which made me feel connected and less alone.

You may want to create a similar practice, if you are feeling cut off, alone, and afraid. The neighbor you haven't seen for two months might just be feeling the same way.

As we sang songs and prayed for each other, while one person dipped cool water and splashed it on the hot rocks, it felt like all my afflictions were passing away as we practiced this ancient tradition of prayer. While my body struggled to sweat out the toxins, my spirit felt cooled and refreshed. I came out of the lodge feeling like a new person. I slept well last night, and this morning something was different – a deeper level of joy, even in something as simple as an ordinary sunrise, surprised me!

Last evening I had the sauna all to myself, for the most part. All the memories of sweating with my Lakota friends returned to me and bathed my heart in love and gratitude. I thanked God for each of my friends, near and far. And then I thanked God for my enemies, naming each one by name. 

I prayed the prayer a holy man once taught me, "Father, give them what they need."

Peace enveloped my soul. I leaned back against the hot wooden wall, closing my eyes. The atmosphere changed. It was charged with peace, joy, and love. Heaven on earth.

My granddaughter entered that peaceful place and she asked the same questions she always asks. "Grandma, why do you sweat?" And I tell her what I've just shared with you. I want to empower her to handle her stress: new school, new friends, new teachers.

How about you? What stress, grief, or pain is knocking you down today?

Do you have a place to go to wind down?

Can you create a special place?

A chair, maybe? A closet?

When my kids were babies, ages 3, 18 months, and newborn you might guess that I was lucky to have 30-seconds of peace in the bathroom, but even then little hands knocked on the door. "Mommy!" They didn't want me out of sight. 

Sometimes you have to make do with what you've got. Sometimes your sacred space might look like a pillow laid down on a closet floor, as I did for many years. Others are lucky to have a whole room, while others have a tree, a path, a sweat lodge.

You might be using drugs to help you wind down. I never had the opportunity, for I didn't have medical care (no insurance). People tell me about the side effects and I'm glad I didn't. But if you are, you may need to get professional help before you begin sweating.

The advice I give here or any place on my site is just my own story and is not intended to counsel, treat, or in any way cause you to change your thinking, habits, or protocol of any kind.

It's just my little story, and how I find peace.

I give you my blessing. May you receive the peace that defies understanding in this world – the very peace of Christ, that helped him to forgive his enemies, even during torture and crucifixion. May you have shalom – the peace of nothing missing, nothing lacking. And may this peace be a bubble around you as you go about your day.

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With all my love,


Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.

Copyright © 2010 to 2015 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Schiller August 20, 2015 at 3:00 am

I want you to learn to be quiet and shut out all the noise and voices except for Mine, says the Lord. You cannot have sound judgment or make good decisions when there are too many voices around you. You cannot discern properly until you can find a place of peace both externally and internally. Be focused and still. Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!


Linda August 28, 2014 at 9:11 pm

thanks Sue for the reminder to make a special place!

Until I do, I share how I went outside tonight to look at the stars… millions and millions of them!  He knows their name and He knows me.

And then a shooting star shot across the sky!  Thank Father for the "Hello" or "Here I am" or "This is just for you, Linda"…  whatever, I am awestruck once again.

p.s. however, a good sweat lodge or sauna does sound good as well!!  😉


Susan Schiller August 29, 2014 at 3:09 am

I wish I had been standing there with you, to see a Texas sky! My granddaughter enjoys sleeping outdoors on the balcony so she can fall asleep watching for shooting stars! I go out there sometimes, too – it’s so beautiful!

I love how you felt the communion with God – nothing better than that! 🙂


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