How is mindfulness meditation workin’ for ya? Let’s travel back to California, the state that now has charter schools that meditate at the start of each school day. UC Berkeley has a quick quiz you can take to see how mindful you are. Now mind you, mindful does not mean you have a lot of activity going on in your brain – quite the opposite. It means you are focusing on your breathing, your feelings, and maybe on the expression on your friend’s face. Take the quiz at this link, but first read my blog. Please!
Turns out that even though I never meditate I scored like a pro, very aware of my own feelings and those of folks around me. How did that happen? Who knows. But let’s move on to the west – western meditation that is. Western meditation is very different from mindfulness. It’s common name is “prayer.” Here is what prayer has done for me.
Several years back I began having difficulty sleeping. I would wake up around three AM every night with panic attacks. After a few months of this nightmare I discovered the magic fix. No, it was not OMMM or focusing on my breathing. Rather I started my own western version of meditation, a personal prayer meeting of one, well, two. Me and God.
All my life I have had problems keeping up with a prayer list. It was either too short, too long, or I just lost it. Then one night at three AM in the dark, the light came on. I was having a panic attack and thinking of shooting myself. Instead I got this smart, preschool idea – PRAY THE ALPHABET! No, not O for OMMM. Prayer is not just about me and my breathing. It’s about God listening, so start with A.
A = my friend Anna who doesn’t know you yet, God.
B = Betty’s husband is dying of cancer. Please, God, help her care for him.
C = Carole. God, she needs help raising her bratty kid.
P = This one’s for me. Hey, if Jesus needed to pray for himself, I sure do.
It is not easy to make it all the way to Z without falling asleep at 3 am. But when I do fall asleep I don’t feel too bad. Jesus’ disciples fell asleep the night before Jesus was arrested and taken off to be killed. Even when we can only pray a little while, we never know what the next day may bring. In the case of the disciples it was to watch the most amazing sacrifice of love in all of time.
So let’s WAKE UP! We are supposed to be mindFUL. Paul the apostle had a lot of pesky church people to deal with. Even the best of church members have fights – think Euodias and Syntyche at Philippi. How about Mary and Martha? Who’s doing the work and who’s doing the mindfulness in that house? Are your kitchen helpers disgruntled? Does some old guy hate church music with drums?
What was Paul’s advice to the Philippians? Here it is.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
When I started trying to think about people and myself in this context, I realized that I was more used to thinking negative thoughts – especially at church. It took me awhile to develop a praise list – honest grades even if Cs, faithful work, confronting gossip, eating healthy food, keeping the house clean, smiles, flowers, creativity, perfect attendance, when the kid remembers to flush the toilet!
But the most amazing thought I have had recently was when my husband played a favorite song of his. It’s about waking up in the morning and realizing Jesus is there with you. Step beyond your grief, heartbreak, loss, anger, and failure. Let this song speak to your heart.