I had the privilege to share some basics about mindfulness recently and hope you will enjoy. Click on the link to view: TEDx Azusa Pacific University
There is always something about a good cup of tea. Sweet, smooth, a rich bitterness balancing the sweet. The different notes of the tea leaves, the roasting process, the temperature of the boiled water –all the small but significant steps all add up to a lot of tastiness.
In mindfulness, there are also small but significant steps that help make your practice tasty and good. As humans, we are often creatures of habit, the consistency of where you sit and when you sit in mindful meditation can help create a sweet, smooth and rich time. I like to sit in two places: on the carpeted floor by my bed and then on the small couch in my office.
On stressful days I take time to sit in each place. Like roasting tea leaves, the first thoughts that bubble up in my mind are exposed wafting up and then like vapor, disappearing. I sit some more, allowing the simmering process to do its work. Its amazing what happens.
There may be a word that I know is from the divine. “Quiet”, “Together”, “Thank you” are themes of these times. I know that as I sit and create space for God to move, I am more connected with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. This time is tasty, blissful, peaceful.
The time flies by. My 10 or 15 minutes is up. I can attend to the day ahead. With scripture etched in my heart and mind and soul, with me being attuned to the presence of God (I know He is always there, I just need to remember!) the day ahead or the day’s end is full of flavor. Tasty tea.
Stress is bad for the heart and soul. For those of us who can’t seem to escape stress in our lives, we tend to choose three different ways to deal with stress: ignore it, push through it, or store it.
When we ignore stress, we ignore the healthy warning signals in our bodies. Those heart palpitations or kinks in our neck, that tightness in our chests and the rumblings of upset stomachs, together signal,”take care of me”, “time out! Relax! Rejuvenate!”, “pause! you’re going too fast, too strong”.
We also push through stress. We think that we, “just have to get over this one hump, and then relief will come. “If I just get through this project…” “Maybe if I just work really hard late tonight..” or, “I’m not sure this will end, but I don’t have a choice”.
We tend to store stress as well. In our bodies, like mentioned earlier, our muscles ache, we begin experiencing psychosomatic symptoms: headaches, stomachaches, heaviness in our chest, weight gain. During our yearly check-ups, we may find that those markers of health–blood sugar levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels–together reflect the cumulative effects of stress in our lives.
Stress is something that is a natural part of life but it’s also important to recognize that we construct our own reality of what is stressful in our lives. Perhaps that reality is altogether off.
Leaning into God’s truth to assist us in truth-making by aligning our life goals to meaningful ones (to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves as well as our enemies) helps. Inviting the power of His Spirit to assist us in addressing the objects of, or situations we are in, is often under-utilized. Seeking clarity in our relationship with Him by steeping in His presence–these are the tools of minding stress in our lives. We do it together with Him.
Stress comes and yes, stress can go. Those markers of our health tell us, remind us, urge us, to consider our limits. While it’s present, stress can help us realize that our whole system is in need of ways to deal. Realigning our thoughts, mindfully attending to our bodies, mind, spirit, become fruitful over time and with practice. Let’s tend to not let those three ways of dealing–ignore it, push through it, store it–be the actions we take. Let us, instead, deal with the objects and situations of our stress with intention, mindful of God’s presence as we seek realignment and as we seek understanding…together.
(I wanted to provide a practical element in this post to support you if you are considering, or are already making mindfulness a part of your journey. The link here is a 30-minute module I have been working on, as part of my research on mindfulness framed in the Christian tradition (I do hope you may still find support in it even if you don’t identify as a Christian!). Please know that you will need to use Google Drive to open and then download the mp3 file in order to listen to it. Sorry about that! Tell me what you think about it if you try it and follow the instructions in the module and listen through the whole thing.)