Tag Archives: Anxiety

NOW!

Today is Wednesday.

Wednesday is like my “Friday.”

I came home from work, took a jog and meditated – relaxing into the thought of my “weekend” ahead. Instead of staying in this NOW moment, my thoughts quickly shifted to Saturday, which is my “Monday,” and what I will have to do when I return to work. Gratefully the next thought that came to me was: “It’s not Saturday yet. It’s Wednesday 7:30pm. Stay in this moment!” I remembered a spiritual guide that I once had who, when I would be fretting about some future task or event, would say: “It’s not here yet. Live this moment.”

How often I live life focused on the next thing instead of this moment. And in so doing, am I really living?

I am convinced that it was my meditation that brought me to this little awareness this evening. Meditation focuses us simply on the NOW. 12 Step Groups often talk about “one day at a time, one moment at a time.” Simply living THIS moment. When an addict is focused on not ever being able to use in the future this hinders recovery. But when an addict focuses on simply not using today, or this moment it, makes recovery much more manageable. In the same way, when I am focused on the future, this hinders living. When I am focused on today, or this moment, life unfolds.

I imagine that my friend who had a stroke right before Christmas and his partner can easily get paralyzed when they begin thinking about the future, when various stages of recovery will come and what will happen in the weeks to come. Sanity or some peace of mind must come from simply focusing on today’s progress, instead of a whirl of thoughts about the future. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for them at times! I know how very much and how very quickly I want to see my friend recover. I can’ only imagine how much more they want the same. I will pray that, with a focus on today’s progress, life will unfold for them in good and positive ways, as indeed it already has these past 12 days!


Raising What Was Left For Dead

Have you ever felt absolutely, utterly lifeless?  Have your choices ever left you wandering in a valley of despair and regret?  Have life circumstances, broken relationships or betrayal ever left you paralyzed and with a sense of utter hopelessness for the future?  Has an addiction ever held you so tightly within its prison walls that you felt no means of escape?

In such times it is difficult to believe in the reality of any Power that could lift us beyond what seems like a living grave. . . . Yet, that is our hope and, frankly, that IS our reality.  There IS a Power that can lift us up.  If I look back on my life experience I see clearly how this Power has raised me to new life on various occasions; and I need to call on this Source again.  Traditional religious language would call this “salvation.”

I try to do it all myself.  Or rather, I get so caught up in paralysis that I do NOTHING.  But once I am able to call upon this Power and DO SOMETHING that will help connect me to It (like prayer, meditation, reading a meditation, etc.) – EVEN IF I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT AND DON’T FEEL A BIT CONNECTED IN THE PROCESS – once I do this Something begins to lift me.

Today as I meditated, I chanted a hymn from the Camaldolese Morning Prayer.  The words of the first verse struck me:

“God’s glory, Christ, our new dawned Day,
In deep compassion for our earth
Has raised what we had left for dead,
And healed what sin* had brought to birth.”

*Read here “weakness, addiction, sickness, brokenness, betrayal, poor choices, etc.”

The Power is there to raise what we had left for dead.


Higher Power – What A Gift!

I find myself of late so very grateful for my belief in a Higher Power – and that Power’s ability to do what I cannot, even changing negative circumstance into a dance! I simply do not know what I would do if I didn’t have this still point to go to in the midst of great uncertainty and difficulty. It becomes life breath to me. To have a vision of hope, even amidst great uncertainty is such a gift! To believe that unexpectedly good things can come of life’s brokenness is a gift beyond price.

I don’t understand why some things happen. If I had the power to turn back the hands of time and change some things I would – but I do not have that power. However, I do believe that there is a Power that can draw straight lines with the crookedness that befalls us. This is God’s laugh in the face of darkness. “Even night is not dark for you and the night is as clear as day” (Psalm 139). Can I believe that darkness is not dark, and that unexpected light and goodness can overcome whatever seeming darkness may befall me?


Sometimes It Takes A While

NOTE:  Again, I have to apologize that I am not consistent in writing for those who read my blog.  I am in the midst of a move and things are very busy.  You might want to consult one of my previous meditations in the mean time.  I hope that you find what I write here helpful and uplifting to your spirit! 

 

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I so wish I was one of those people who are always able to walk with a sense of peace in the knowledge that they will be taken care of, that it will all work out.  I confess to you that I am not.  When something comes up, be it financial, a concern for a friend, work or the world, my first reaction is to get all upset.  I oftentimes get down on myself for reacting this way.  Come on, after all, I’m a person of faith ain’t I??  Would a person of faith react this way?  Does anyone else feel this way?

 

I hope one day to grow into being one of those people who always walk with a sense of peace and trust.  It must be a wonderful way to live.  In the mean time though, I have to realize that it’s a process.  These times are good practice for me to grow into being that person.  I am given lessons, again and again, to trust when matters are out of my control – and it’s precisely this “practice” that will lead me to a greater sense of trust and freedom. 

 

So, if you’re like me and get down on yourself for not reacting in a better way, give yourself a break.  It’s a process.  The fact is, after a few days of fretting about this or that, I usually do surrender to trust and regain a sense of equilibrium.  Sometimes it just takes a while.


Does God Really Care About Religion?

I question myself more and more as to whether God really cares about religious structures and institutions at all.  Does God really care about all these humanly created laws?  Does God really care about how this or that Worship Service or Liturgy is done?  Does God really care about what kind of music is used?  Does God really care about restricting people from access to the Table?  Does God really care about not eating meat on the Fridays of Lent?  Does God really care whether food is kosher or not?  Does God really care about proving whether one was “actually” married or not through an annulment before getting married again?  Does God really care about barring gay people from marriage, anymore than God would care about eating shrimp (which nobody listens to in the first place, even though it’s listed in the “abominations” in Leviticus – not to mention a woman being put to death who cheats on her husband, conveniently with no mention as to what is to happen to the man!).  Does God really care about ANY of this? 

 

In the end, does any of this matter?  Some I have met who are into enforcing religious law are among the most judgmental, mean spirited people I have ever met.  Conversely, those who have had the law inflicted upon them and internalized it live with the most abject fear of their acceptability in the eyes of God that I have seen.  Indeed, isn’t it “sinful” to have instilled such fear in the hearts of these good people?  What is of greater importance?  Living the letter of religious law, or building people up by being a loving, self giving person? 

 

Yesterday in my church, we heard the story of the man born blind from John’s Gospel.  In the end, who was really blind?  Were the blind man and Jesus the “sinners,” as accused by the upright religious folk in the story; or was it the religious folk themselves, intent on the letter of the law?  I can only imagine that the spirit of evil rejoices when people get all caught up in religious law!  Ironic that those who are not caught up in it, those who do not abide by it, or those who question it are the very ones called “bad.”

 

What’s more important in life?  I believe that sometimes religious law serves only to blind us to what is really important in being a person of God. 


Relinquishing Fear

This morning I began looking through Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love:  Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, which a friend of mine gave me the other day.  In the introduction I think she has one of the best definitions of spirituality that I have seen:

“The spiritual journey is the relinquishment – or unlearning – of fear and the acceptance of love back in our hearts.” (p.xxii)

I think she gets to the heart of what it is to live a spiritual path.  What immediately came to my mind when I read this sentence was a time in my life when I was really struggling.  I felt trapped and saw no way out.   All I saw was the downward spiral that I was in.  One day I knelt and prayed that I would somehow be freed, and even as I prayed I had little faith that this darkness would pass.  Soon after, however, I began to have more and more thoughts of what life would be like outside of this spiral.  This is what I began concentrating on and soon after, I found myself moving beyond fear to freedom.

It was only when my thoughts of fear were replaced with exciting thoughts of a new life, that I began to move to a new place of freedom.  Fear was replaced with possibility.  This is such a good reminder to me when I find myself struggling with whatever issue.  If I stay with thoughts of fear, I will remain trapped.  But if I place before my eyes a vision of what can be, a Power greater than myself will begin to move me in that direction.

Perhaps today, instead of worrying, instead of fretting over something in our lives, we might replace those thoughts with a vision of freedom, keep our focus there and see what happens.


The Secret Calm – Part II

Someone commented yesterday how wonderful it would be to be able to calm the mind, to be completely free of thought or worry.

Lest anyone think that that is the case with me, let me assure you it is not! I don’t think it is true of anyone. If the expectation is that with our spiritual practice we will be completely free of thought of worry, we will be disappointed. However, if we practice calming the mind, meditation, etc we will have tools at our disposal which will help us calm the mind and go to a place of greater peace and centeredness. Is it complete calm and peace? No. But our practice gives us a door, an opening into a deeper dimension of stillness, beyond the chaos of mind or life situations. And this can lead us to a place of greater peace. And when the storm comes, it’s best to have some tools at our disposal! In other words, we don’t have to stand completely powerless in the face of storms in our lives. Our spiritual practice, 12 Step work, therapy, religious faith – all of these are tools that we can pick up at a moment’s notice and use to deal more effectively with life’s issues.

The important thing is that we maintain some sort of spiritual practice CONSISTENTLY. Then, when we need it, it will be more of an ingrained habit, to which we will easily turn. Do these tools have immediate results in calming me? Sometimes yes. But most often, it is a process where calm and focus gradually takes hold. It’s like having a secure anchor to grab on to, or firm ground on which to stand. The storm may be raging around us or within us, but these practices provide a point of grounding in the midst of the storm. Do they immediately take the storm away? Not usually. But the grounding itself gives cause for hope and gradually opens a door to greater peace and clarity.

Today is the feast of a famous saint whose prayer of peace attributed to him is prayed by Christians and non-Christians alike. Francis of Assisi was a man who experienced many storms in his life and in the world around him. Yet he continually drew himself and his followers back to a quiet place within – as well as BEING the peace that he wanted to experience. “Make ME an instrument of your peace . . .” In so doing, we gain the peace that we impart to others.