Friday, February 16, 2007

Deliberate Action

It's unbelievable how many ways one has to avoid doing what one knows to be best. I sit down at the computer with the intention of declaring my spiritual focus for the day only to think that I need to check my e-mail first and then, the next thing I know, a half hour or more has passed because I allowed myself to get sucked into playing 'spider solitaire'! What a waste of time; and yet, I do it all the time. If it weren't a computer game, it would be a book or some mindless project (anything but housecleaning). To some extent, doing stuff like that is ok because it allows me to 'zone out' and dissipate negative energy or tension. It's good to be able to chill a little. I think that's why a lot of people spend so much time watching tv.
I've never been able to meditate. I liken my mind to a dog. At Friends Meeting, it seems to me that all the other people who attend have minds that are like old Irish Setters laying before a warm fire on a winter's day. My mind is more like a young Chihuahua with the mailman knocking at the door: YAPYAPYAPYAPYAPYAPYAPYAPYAPYAP(inhale)YAPYAPYAP...
I've never been able to find peace or comfort in my mind. When I would try meditating, I would usually fall asleep. I've gotten a little better with prayer. I usually begin to center by thanking God for all the things I am grateful for. Doing so helps to put me in a state of awareness of all of God's greatness. This morning I began my day by asking God to help me be aware of God in myself and in all my encounters. A daily spiritual focus helps me to maintain awareness and having to create a new one each day keeps it fresh in my mind.
But meditating to 'chill' is another thing. I'm reading a book "Buddha or Bust" about a National Geographic writer who's traversing the world 'in the footsteps of the Buddha'. He's kinda into Buddhism although doesn't call himself a practicing Buddhist. I've read a lot about Buddhism over the years but, maybe because this book is not a book about Buddhist practice, only about the impact of Buddhism, and is therefore not trying to 'teach' me anything, I seem to be picking up the idea of meditation. Ok, I can only clear my mind for 3.4 seconds but that is 2.1 more than I've ever been able to do in the past before drifting off. Moving mediation works for me, if I could only get over my tendencies toward laziness to make them an actual practice: The whole "chop wood, carry water" kind of zone. If I could see washing dishes as a tool for calming my mind our whole household would run more smoothly. It all comes back to one's intention in each moment. Usually, my intention for getting on the internet is communication, sometimes it's research, rarely is it pure entertainment, although I often wind up doing that. If I could be more clear to myself what my intentions are in each moment, each action, I might be able to perceive things like washing dishes as a centering tool. Today, my practice is to be open to the possibility that each action may be done deliberately and with focus and in doing so can be a way to center myself.

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