To meditate or not meditate, that is the question. Meditation has been a spiritual practice for centuries. Reducing stress, gaining focus and developing a deeper relationship with God are all benefits (read Loretta’s story). So, why would anyone even question to practice meditation with so many benefits?
The two reasons I believe that people don’t even try meditation are:
- It takes a commitment of time
- People are afraid of losing control
While every one of us is given a 24 hour day, everyone seems to be time poor. We’ve been taught that time is money, not to waste time, and somehow, if we are not busy or doing something we are unproductive.
The perception of sitting and “doing nothing” for 10-15 minutes, doesn’t put meditation on the priority list. I used to think that way too until I turned to meditation out of desperation. (You can listen to this story.)
The truth is, meditation is not doing nothing. It’s a powerful tool to silence the voices of anxiety, doubt, self-criticism and fear. Meditation quiets the mind and allows you to actually think more clearly. This quieting allows you to respond instead of reacting because of having more peace.
God loves us especially in our messes. This whole mess business was inspired by a huge renovation project that is going on at my church and a lovely email I received from a Guided Life Ezine reader who shared her story of transformation to trust God in the midst of her messes. (You’ll love her dialogue back and forth with God.)
Our church project involves getting a new pipe organ to be installed over the period of almost a year. The first step is renovating the front of the sanctuary.
The choir had a rare Sunday off from singing, so instead of sitting in the choir stalls, Robert and I sat in the congregation in our usual spot, pew two (I’ve heard the self-assigned pew is a Presbyterian thing).
Reaching up to the three or four story ceiling was scaffolding surrounding the area where the chambers hold the organ pipes. In our direct line of sight was a sign which read:
I was immediately struck with the thought; God loves us in our messes. After the sermon I took a picture of the sign and told my pastor that I was going to do a post on this subject. He added the word, especially. He said, “God loves us especially in our messes.”
As I mentioned, this mess subject made me think of a lovely email I received from Loretta. I asked her if I could share her story with you and she gave me an enthusiastic yes.
I have joined the ranks of baby boomers dealing with aging parents. My son is off to college, I’ve started my own, growing consulting business and was looking forward to unbridled freedom. Instead, I am experiencing the unexpected demands that come with taking care of a parent.
I know that I am not alone, because my friends are all dealing with providing for their parents in some way.
More than ever, stressful times call for leaning on God for peace and guidance, and what I call Divine time management.
Here’s what I mean…..
Our connecting with God and practicing ways to be contemplative aren’t limited to prayer, meditation and writing. While I promote prayer, meditation and journaling as powerful tools, there are many simple ways to feel the love and presence of God every day. By incorporating mindfulness of the presence of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or all three, through simple acts we perform, we can bring a sense of peace, wholeness and clarity into our daily living. What do I mean?
Have you ever stopped to think of simple things you do – Preparing a meal, walking your dog, painting, gardening, cleaning your house or apartment, sitting in the presence of a loved one and not speaking, fishing – almost any kind of hobby? All of these activities lend themselves to putting your whole heart into it. We may even call these activities “mindless”. What these actions represent are contemplative practices.
I put house cleaning on the list because it seems so odd, right? Continue reading
Many references are made throughout the Bible about sheep and about the Lord being the Good Shepherd. There is the famous Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” John 10:14: “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep.” John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.”
In the United States we understand the reference but it’s rare to see a sheep other than in a petting zoo! On a recent choir trip to Scotland and England, the Bible verses literally came to life along the roadside, pastures and hills.
Throughout the British Isles sheep are a main fixture of the landscape.
Traveling from Manchester, England to Edinburgh, Scotland by motor coach, our tour guide pointed out a flock of sheep that started moving very suddenly. Up until that time, the sheep were either grazing or resting, they were never on the move. He explained to us that when one sheep started to move, that first sheep became the leader and the other sheep would follow. It was really quite amazing to watch. Right in the middle of eating some grass, they saw the leader and took off.
How often do we lose sight of our inner knowing and being guided by God and take off in another direction lead by another voice? It happens all of the time. Jeremiah 50:3 says, “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have lead them astray.”
We can always get back on track. I Peter 2:25: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
Listening to the voice of our true Leader and Shepherd means being still and getting quiet. Meditation is a great way to learn how to be still. If you’ve never practiced meditation, it is a powerful practice to quiet the mind.
Are other voices leading you astray, or are you being lead in the right direction? Your true Shepherd is always there to listen and to lead.
Yesterday I wrote about The Law of Attraction and the Christian Faith Part I where I shared a true story that happened to me when I attracted a past connection into my life.
I wrapped up that first post by saying that there were two caveats with the asking and receiving process.
Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
We also need to believe. In the book of Matthew, a man approached Jesus regarding his son. He had first taken his son to his disciples to heal him, but they couldn’t do it. Jesus was, let’s say, a little upset. He rebuked the demon and healed the boy.
Now the title of my post of saying it’s okay to get angry does not encourage you to go off on someone or lose your temper. That’s not what I mean. I teed up what I was going to share with you on my prior post Seeking and Finding Abundant Wholeness. Expressing our anger is sometimes exactly what we need to get unstuck.
When we don’t deal with issues that are stuffed down, it makes us feel stuck and overwhelmed. That was certainly the case with me. I was stuck. The process I used to get unstuck was the power of meditation and journaling.
I drew this meditation cartoon as an example of what happens when we don’t get quiet and do some soul searching. We can get wound pretty tight as a result!
I took a cartoon class a year ago and as a result I finally began to draw again after thirty years. You see, growing up I had always wanted to be an artist. That was my passion. As a kid you would always find me with crayons in my hand. As I became older (meaning a teenager) I moved on to charcoal, pastels and dabbled in some painting. Art was an escape for me. I was in my creative world where everything was fun and beautiful – a contrast to the reality of living in an environment with an unstable father who was an alcoholic. His drinking didn’t make him a happy drunk, quite the contrary. We never discussed Dad’s outbursts and violence. That’s pretty hard to process as a child.
Someone said the other evening at a church meeting that God gave us two ears that were always open and one mouth that we could shut. I had never “heard” it put that way before, so I wanted to share that description.
The book stores are filled with isles and isles of self help and personal development books. Topics to help you be motivated, achieve success, how to combat depression, anxiety, improve self esteem, abound. If you are seeking help to improve in an area of your life, you’ll most likely find a book on it.
My book shelves are filled with these “helpful” books, even spiritual and Christian books on the subject of improving our spiritual walk. I am a voracious reader, soaking up as much as I can. The more I’ve been reading, however, the more empty I have felt. This week I finally discovered why.
I have to say that I am pretty fortunate as a writer that my mind is constantly spinning with creative ideas. But, inevitably, we all hit the wall – the wall of writer’s block. That’s when you sit down with your pad of paper or plop down in front of the computer and nothing comes.
When that happens, you can’t sit and will your brain to spew out lovely prose. It just won’t happen. In the world of true creativity, you can’t force things. That’s when you have to tap into some Divine creative power.
I took this picture at the Monterey Aquarium. It’s a sea horse. Can you believe it? There were 32 different varieties of sea horses. I rarely watch television, but one of my favorite shows is CBS Sunday Morning. Robert and I watch it before we go to church. One Sunday they featured “Creatures.” I had no idea that there are 1.8 million known species!
While I have always admired God’s handy work in the form of sunsets, clouds, mountains – I had no idea how many species God created. And there are more we haven’t even discovered. This solidified for me the mind and creativity of God. It gave me a new meaning and appreciation of God as the Ultimate Creator.
All writers and artists experience being blocked.