So this month’s homework from the Worship Associate’s class at 1U Orlando is to research and bring to the next class readings suitable for readings/meditation/prayer in a Service. I ended up choosing the topic of mindfulness, in part thanks to the following paragraph I found in Ordinary Magic: Everyday Life as Spiritual Practice ed. John Wellwood…
“Mindfulness practice trains us to drop into the body again and again. What we find when we look around in the body are sensations. All the drama of our thought, feeling, and action begins with sensations. Through mindfulness we train ourselves to be in the body to receive them. To be present with sensations in our body is not an act of will. It is a kind of equanimity or grace. In such moments we feel our activity belonging to life. We wash the dishes as a holy act. We turn the key in the lock and know what the wrist is doing. Feeling our body turn away from the cold weather, we catch ourselves and consciously rise up to meet it. The choice to be aware is often an act of courage.” ~ Denise Taylor in the essay Coming Home to The Body
This quote resonates with me lately, even though I am at best intermittent with a formal meditation practice. I suspect that being blessed with the challenge of ADD means that my Monkey Mind is on steroids. Mindfulness though, that’s another story.
Sometimes it is simply focusing on my breathing for a few quiet moments during my day, remembering those six breaths. Sometimes it is setting everything else aside and focusing on my daily offerings and prayers and spiritual practices. Sometimes it is paying deep attention to the act of preparing and drinking my tea, or a the meal I am enjoying. Sometimes it is focusing for a few moments in our crazy-quilt schedules and holding The Fabulous Jonathan in my arms and telling him I love him.
Often it is my commitment to listen to news sources and to be reasonably informed on current events, and sometimes it is choosing NOT to post or re-post something on FB when I feel stirred to comment… waiting for a while to see if this is a knee-jerk reaction or something I truly need to express. I started this commitment to being informed many years ago while working a somewhat dead-end fast food job durring the first time I lived away from home with some friends, upon noticing that the U.S. Flags were at half-mast and I had no earthly idea why!?
I hadn’t known of the Oklahoma City Bombing until two days later!
From that day forward, I have tried to be aware of what is going on in the world beyond my door-step and workplace… even if it’s just scanning the headlines for a few minutes each day. The flip-side of trying to be informed is that current events, especially the last couple of years, can sometimes seem overwhelming. Tragedy and tyranny and greed and fear and ignorance and bigotry and extremist ideologues tearing the world apart instead of seeking common ground to build a better world….
Which is why that quote and it’s final sentence, the title of this post, continues to resonate and echo within my heart. This commitment of mine has worn me down mightily the last few years, and some days continues to do so, eroding places in my heart and mind and soul like a sand castle at the shore.
Yet an essay I read not so long ago, Food for Transformation by P.D. Ouspensky in the anthology The Inner Journey: Views from the Gurdjieff Work ed. Jacob Needleman, has been of great help to me. The essay basically discusses Gurdjieff’s teachings regarding the idea that we humans take in 3 types of Foods… The regular food we eat, the air we breath, and Impressions….
“It is not difficult to agree that air is a kind of food for the organism. But in what way impressions can be food may appear at first difficult to understand. We must however remember that, with every external impression, whether it takes the form of sound, or vision, or smell, we receive from the outside a certain amount of energy, a certain number of vibrations; this energy which enters the organism from the outside is a food.”~ P.D. Ouspensky, quoting G.I. Gurdjieff in the above-mentioned anthology
Now ever the years, I have often encourage friends to find out what creative arts ‘nourish their souls’ or ‘feed their souls’ as a way of working through difficult times. I have often turned to favorite books or poetry, or treasured novels, or music, or movies, to renew my spirit and help me through a difficult emotional patch… what is that if not bolstering my spiritual or mental diet?
So I am working on both my physical and spiritual diet each day. Seeking nutrition for body and soul, I also choose carefully what offerings I cast out unto the waters of the Internet, that I may be blessed and inspired by what returns back to me. I open myself to inspiration and to readings and to exploring my spiritual journey, which practice impels me to keep paying attention to current events to keep being aware, to keep sharing news and information, to sometimes comment (while trying to comment from a loving heart).
What inspires you? What feeds you? What energizes you? Follow those threads my friends, and may you be well and your own journey blessed!
Pax / Geoffrey