Meditation can be a daunting idea. For most of us our minds are running full speed and we can even have difficulty turning them off to sleep. This is the most common complaint heard by physicians about insomnia….”I just couldn’t turn my mind off.”
We hear that meditation will calm us and release endorphins. We can listen to meditation tapes and find ourselves wandering from the voice’s instructions. Turning our minds off is a difficult task.
Our minds have been running like this for years. What makes us think that turning off the thoughts can be just a matter of sitting down and expecting it to happen. Just like anything else in life it is a skill that we have to learn. To learn it we have to practise*. I have friends who run marathons and they have to be consistent in their training. They can’t just go out and run without work.
The same thing is true of meditation. We have to retrain our mind. You can’t learn to shut thoughts off like snapping your fingers. It takes time, work and consistency.
When we start to learn this new skill we must have patience with ourselves. We try it and we can’t stop the mind and we think it is hogwash and a failure. It isn’t any more than trying to run a marathon by just deciding…”today I am going to run 26 miles.”
In the beginning the only thing that we may accomplish is just taking time to sit or lie quietly. This is not a bad thing in itself. It helps to just stop for a while. Paying attention to your breath and checking your body for tension is always good. The next step is to recognize the thoughts that are running through your mind. My first (and very best) yoga instructor told us to see that thought and mentally watch it slide across your mind and on out. Continue to do this with each thought that occurs. With practise* you will notice less thoughts intruding and by watching them go by you are not allowing them to really intrude.
Learn to take time for meditation. My yoga instructor said that when we are awake we are like a car in forward gear. When we are asleep we are in reverse. When we are in meditation we are in neutral. A good analogy.
Meditation is wonderful…learning it is a task worth putting time into.
*word press wants me to change practise to practice. Practise is the verb. Practice is a noun.
I am tired. I have realized that the tiredness is coming from the emotional roller coaster I have been on lately. When we have done physical work or completed a project we can be tired but it is a satisfying tired. It feels good. This is not that. This tired is totally enervating. It has drained me to my core.
When we are truly empathetic we experience the feelings and aura of those around us. Recently the strain that my friends have been under and the energy I have expended has taken all the oomph out of me. However I hope we are now on the upswing and that things are getting better.
Tomorrow I will be able to work in the yard. Although this is tiring it is the good kind of tired. It will produce a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. I have complained about the yard work but you can actually see the progress and that is something.
Lately I have taken little time for myself and I will address that in the coming week. I would like to see some “normal” but you never know when you will have to adjust to a “new normal.”
Finding things that bring us peace and calm are so important. Reading help me and just sitting on the porch and enjoying the outdoors. Each of us needs to find what can help when things get overwhelming. Not caring for ourselves will bring on anxiety, panic and depression. Not something we want to do.
What helps to bring you some peace and calm?
Today felt like a day out of time. My husband had tests scheduled and left our hotel at 9:30 and came back at 2:30. He says the day was organized and fairly simple. For me it felt like a day out of time. I spent most of the day in the room and re-read a book that I loved (When Breath Becomes Air). It is the journey of a remarkable neurosurgeon, scientist, PHD in English as he receives a terminal diagnosis. It has some sad parts but some amazing quotes. He was an amazing writer and thinker.
For me it was a day to think and just be. I did some knitting…also think time…and a little TV. I think it was the first day in a long time where I had nothing planned and no agenda at all. In my case this would normally be stressful but today it was so calm. What a joy.
I am not sure why the calm settled in since tomorrow we (hopefully) will have a plan in place and normally I would have been anxious about that. The calm was a blessing.
How often are we blessed enough to feel calm? For me that is not often. I let myself dive into it. Thanks to God for the moment out of time!
Today is a new day. Today I pulled up my socks and decided to stop wallowing. Today I took some steps to move forward and it feels so good. I made some appointments that I need to do and made the decision to get on with it.
Doing this made me feel better. Now the idea is to keep it up. My experience shows me that I will have down days when I don’t want to keep moving. My prayer life has been perfunctory and an obligation except for the last prayer of the night from the New Zealand Prayer Book which is:
Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God.
It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.
The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.
The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.
The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.
This prayer brings me peace and prepares me for sleep. Now I need to find a way to make this same kind of connection during the day. I will do this by setting aside a time for prayer and meditation in the morning before the day gets in my way.
Prayer is so important. No matter what God you believe in prayer is the connection. You may just call it something else but it will involve silence and freeing your mind to acceptance, to wait upon God. We always need to expand our prayer life and learn to experience God. This is different from talking to God. This is immersing yourself in the creator and letting all else go. This is not easy and like anything good requires work and consistency. I plan to do the work. Pray for me!
Today was a little strange for me. I love Easter and its wonderful gift to us but today was a little off. Again it has to do with change. Usually, at Easter, I do baskets for my two grandchildren who live near. They are adults but I still like to do it. My daughter-in-law and my grandson are both on a cruise so it seemed a little unnecessary to just do one basket. My granddaughter is in her 20’s and on her own with a good job and didn’t expect me to do anything. Time moves on and things change but it did feel odd.
Church was also different. The service was not the usual service and started with the Exultant which is beautiful but somehow I wasn’t ready for that. It is just me trying to adjust again. The service was beautiful but I wasn’t.
Once again I come up against my own failure to accept change. Change is hard but it shouldn’t be this hard. I am trying but not succeeding in feeling at peace where I am. It’s hard when you know that the problem is you and not the life around you. Maybe I am facing aging and not being in the midst of things. That also is my error for not pushing myself to get out there and do something.
There! I have voiced my sadness and my frustration and will need to move on and find what God has in store for me. I think the hardest thing that God tells us to do is to do nothing. The plan to do mediation has been slow in coming but will get here in time. I know that things will move on. God just needs to bop me on the head and say “I told you! Just sit!”
For the last 40 odd years I have been connected to one or the other church home. First it was the Episcopal church I attended with my husband. The people there are wonderful and at that time there was a great minister. Later, after I was working for the Lutherans there was a minister at my husband’s church whose moral core I couldn’t live with so at my husband’s urging I disconnected myself from there.
Then 20 years ago (while still a member of the first church) I was hired by the Lutheran Church as the Parish Nurse. That was the perfect job for me as it married my vocation with my passion. The 20 years I was there I felt at home and completely fulfilled. Since leaving there I have been at a loss. I don’t feel the same at the first church and don’t feel connected to the second since their removal of my position was not done well. I think the powers that be in that church did not get the difference between a ministry and a job. I am sorry and feel that it was their loss.
The bottom line of all of this is that I don’t feel at home in either place. I know that I need to let all of the disappointment with both places go and seek out a place where I do feel at home. It matters greatly to me. For some reason I am reluctant to move forward with this and so don’t often go at all. This is not a solution but I seem to have little motivation to do anything.
Maybe there are times when we just need to sit back and just BE. I may be in one of those eddies where you just spin around and around. I feel connected to God but not to church. I do struggle with this when special seasons of the church hit me in the face. Holy Week is one of them.
It is important to move forward in whatever way will work for me. A period of absence and reflection is not wrong. I just need it not to go on for too long.
This verse seems appropriate.:
On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Psalm 62:7 NRSV
Today my husband and I took a day off from church. I din’t think that either of us wanted to go to a yearly meeting. Instead I worked on my computer restoring programs while carbonite chugged away and re-installing my data.
Just waiting is something I don’t do well. I tried playing the piano to take up some time but the little finger on my right hand is in pain with arthritis (UGH – again with the aging!) I plan to get it taken care of but it hasn’t floated to the top of the list.
It is so easy to get impatient. We want to fix ourselves and we want to fix others. We want the world to be a better place. If only we could do that. As a nurse I learned the hard lesson that some things can’t be fixed. I am still impatient and still longing to try.
Life doesn’t wait on us while we sit around waiting. Each day holds moments for us to leap in and participate. Each day offers opportunities to do something. Sometimes the something may be doing nothing. We often forget that doing nothing is doing something. It is choosing to step away and just be. We move so fast in our world today that just sitting with hands folded is almost considered a sin. The time is past when people sat on the front porch in a rocking chair and just SAT.
So today, even though I am impatient for my computer to finish, I took some time to fold my hands and sit. I pushed away thoughts of getting up to clean the house or some other work. I just sat. Even though it wasn’t for long it was a time of doing something. Sitting.