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Friday, March 4, 2011

Mindfulness

Sometimes, it gets to be too much. I don't know about you, but I have a BS threshold. There is just so much nonsense I can tolerate, just so much foolishness, just so much stupidity, before I have to shut down. Over the last several weeks I have had more than enough of the Governor of my State and his combination of ignorance and arrogance. At the same time, I have read more than enough from a variety of sources about a variety of topics that is just plain wrong, just totally untrue, just complete spin, and all of it presented and represented as truth - and more than a little of it is so completely irresponsible that I find it hard to believe that it has a human being as its source.

The truth is that traditional, non-Contemplative Christianity, as a spiritual path, has little to offer the individual believer when the world starts to overwhelm them, with the possible exception of the well worn counsel to "give it up to God," which often means little more than denial. It is easy to see why it's not just activists who become overwhelmed, and why the counsel to not watch the evening news - at least for a season now and again - is good advice.

As a person of great passion, especially for social justice, mindfulness practice has been a great help in keeping me centered. I am far from perfect at it, mind you (no pun intended), but the difference in me over the course of my mindfulness practice has been astonishing. It didn't start the first week of my practice, and that is fitting. I have yet to find any sort of practice that yields results instantly. If there is one, I would expect that the results are rather shallow and short lasting, not unlike Jesus' parable of the seeds scattered on the path and the rocky soil.

Despite knowing that my practice is helpful, there are still some times when I find myself on overload, when the inflow of information is just too much and I realize I need to enter a period of shut down. By shut down I mean cutting off the input and spending additional time in intentional practice for a season. Stop to consider that there is no machine which can continue to run indefinitely without being refueled. Our bodies, and our psyches, are less durable than machines, and yet at times I find myself asking both my body and mind to do much more than I would expect from the most durable machine in the world! It is at those times that I need to fall back with great intention onto my practice. I'm not advocating only practicing when the fur hits the fan. Rather, I'm advocating constant spiritual practice, with increased intention when the going gets tough.

It has been said that life is about balance, and I believe that is true. Balance, however, isn't stagnant. Like a high wire artist on a windy day, life balance requires constant readjustment in response to the changing currents of life. It isn't a once for all proposition, but a moment by moment readjustment. Sounds a lot like mindfulness to me!

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