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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

premeditated pathway

It seems I might be a stress head. I endlessly turn things over in my mind. I have trouble relaxing my body, and I rarely sit still. If I am sitting I am nearly always doing something. When I try and stop and cultivate mindfulness... I get up less than five minutes later to do that unimportant-but-suddenly-vital little task. This is not good for me, so I'm working hard to arrest these bad habits. Today I managed to sit still, move not at all, and remain silent, for twenty five minutes.

'How is this so?' you may well ask.

Meditation. Christian meditation.

It all came about by accident, although in truth I don't very much believe in accidents, unless they involve cars killing people, or bombs knocking out innocent shoppers at a local market. That is an accident. I cannot possibly conceive that any divine being could plan and desire this to happen. So, in my kind-of-an-accident-but-not-really-because-all-things-work-together-somehow moment, I was talking with the school nurse. In pondering how to address some issues in the school, she offered up meditation as a suggestion. This interested me, because I see part of my role as school chaplain being the fostering of spirituality in young souls. I am still working out how best to do this in a broad way, and meditation seems a reasonable option. We talked more, I asked for information, and the school nurse invited me to a regular session of Christian meditation at the local Catholic centre.

To be honest, I never really saw myself joining the group. Nice idea, but I'm way to busy and can't sit still to save my life. (Although if it really was a matter of life and death I suspect I could) Enter a friend asking for ideas for how to manage sleep difficulties. 'Christian meditation!' I said, 'It's supposed to bring peace and settledness and unity. I know of a group, let's go together.' And so today we went.

I'm not sure what I was expecting... certainly a more balanced representation of the sexes. Ten women, we sat in a circle around a flame and native flowers. After some initial discussion and explanation of the art and science behind meditation, we began.

Sit straight and still for the allotted time, and in your mind repeat 'Ma-ra-na-tha' (Come Lord) in syllables of equal length. Lay aside any distracting thoughts and focus on the word. Nothing magical will happen in this moment, but as contemplation and mindfulness grow, one will find healing and unity with themselves and God.

'Ma-ra-na-tha. Ma-ra... I'm going to suffocate if I don't move... -na-tha.'
'Oh, I didn't suffocate... Ma-ra-na-tha.'
'Maranatha, Maranatha, Maranatha'
'Did I just fall asleep? I think I may have... Maranatha.'
'Maranatha, Marana... what will I cook for tea tonight?... tha'
'Mara... focus Cecily, stop drifting off, honestly it's not that har... natha'
'Ma... I have so much to do tomorrow... ranatha'
'Maranatha, Maranatha, Maranatha, I think I'm getting the hang of this, Maranatha.'

And then the gong sounded, signalling the end.

I did it. I sat for thirty minutes. I did not move or talk. I meditated! I'm not sure if I was just sleepy or very relaxed, but at the end it felt good. So good my friend and I plan to go back again next week. I might even try and do a bit this week on my own. (For five minutes - don't want to set myself up for failure here!)

I'm hoping this is the beginning of less stress for Cec, and more mindfulness and steadiness in my whole life, cause I sure need it!

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