Meditation

For a lot of years, I have been feeling nudged by the Spirit to give meditation a try. I keep reading how important it is in healing and spirituality. Also, many of the people I admire most in the faith spend time each day meditating. I define meditation as being quiet and listening. As stilling the mind and being open to hearing from God. I also define it as being aware of the present moment.
Mediation is something most of the big religions of the world have in common as being a vital spiritual practice. Some are better at promoting it than others. Many of our Catholic mothers and fathers in the faith spent a great deal of time in meditation. I remember reading about one monk who would be so aware of the present that he even saw sweeping the floors as a holy act, full of the presence of God.
But I stink at meditation! Every time I have tried, my mind wanders almost immediately. I start making lists in my head or I think about the most random things. So I decided to read a book on meditation. It’s called Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn and one of the things the author says to do is breathe and try to be aware of the present moment, because so often we are either dwelling in the past or worrying about the future.
This didn’t sound too hard. So I tried it the first time when I was driving [you would hope I could be in the present moment while driving…]. I drove by a tree blowing in the breeze and I tried to just notice that tree in that moment. But immediately its silvery leaves reminded me of trees I used to see growing up in North Dakota and then I thought about what I was going to make for dinner and once again, I felt like a failure. I could not be in the present. The past and the future kept butting in…
But then someone told me that people that say they can’t meditate can usually do it for about 35 seconds. People that regularly practice meditation can do it for 45 seconds. Wow, did that make me feel better.
So why am I even trying you might ask? Pastor Bill gave a great sermon last Sunday. If you didn’t hear it, you can listen to it on our website. One of the things he said that Paul says to do is worry about nothing but pray about everything. He talked about how it is pretty much impossible not to worry, but Paul gives us help. He says when you worry, pray.
I think this is because prayer helps us get out of our own heads, and that is also the goal of meditation—at least for Christians.
I am still trying. And I am seeing teeny, tiny glimpses. Like the other day I was watching my daughter at swimming lessons and I thought, “this is so awesome. This moment right here. She is so happy and full of life and I am watching her grow and learn. I am blessed.” I didn’t think about how fast it is going by or how often I have read or looked at my phone instead of watching her. I just watched her—for about 30 seconds.
But I think that is what God wants us to do and to work on—focusing on the present. The past is done. There is NOTHING we can do to change it, ever. Same with the future. I mean, of course we can be smart and make some plans, but really, things can change in an instant. When we pray, we ask for forgiveness for the past so we can let it go. And we pray for the future so we can entrust that future to God.
And meditation can help with that so much. Notice your breath. Actually see leaves shimmering on a tree. Watch the hands of your son turn a page in his book. Notice how good the sun feels shining on you as you sit on your deck. These are gifts of God. The present is God’s gift and we get to notice it and open it in every moment.
For me, mediation and prayer seem to go hand-in-hand, because when I pray I so often forget to listen because I’m worrying so much. But part of prayer is listening, too. And meditation makes me stop—even if it is only a few seconds—and notice the now.
Will you join me in noticing the now?

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