Making the Most of Meditation

I am pretty sure these days that I am not as busy as you are. Make sure you read that right. You are working more hours than you probably want to and facing decisions in your life you would rather not be facing. This is something I face, it seems, on a daily basis, but still it isn't what you are likely facing.

My shift from full-time employment to disability was a hard decision to make but a needed one. The difficulty I find is the different laws at work. There are two that I think apply most readily in my life and likely, I suspect, in yours:

1. Newton's first law of motion (sometimes called the law of inertia): It states, most simply, that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. This is a bit tongue-in-cheek as Newton was not thinking of human existence but physics. Still, we are people in constant motion. The workaholic approach of western culture is also one of those "products" we have unwittingly been exporting around the world.

We fear rest. We are afraid even to rest. I think Twenty One Pilots' song, "Car Radio" presents what is now, an almost paralyzing fear people now have with silence.

We cannot stand it. We have to have noise, music, TV, white noise, you name it.  Even in church worship services we struggle and are even uncomfortable with the sound of silence. We must move. We must make noise. We must never slow down.

2.Parkinson's law is of an entirely different sort. The Economist published an article in 1955 on this law stating: "It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." (, 11/19/55. Accessed 1/11/17). In other words, whatever time we have available, we will fill it. The difficulty is what we choose to fill it with.

We get frustrated at ourselves when we look back and see a day "wasted" on binge watching our favorite show on Netflix. We get disgusted finding we spent 2 hours on Instagram looking at memes. And, then, when we go on vacation, we feel we MUST take our work with us.

"A recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds about half of Americans who work 50-plus hours a week say they don't take all or most of the vacation they've earned. And among respondents who actually take vacations, "30 percent say they do a significant amount of work while on vacation." (Neighmond, Patti. 7/12/16. Accessed 1/11/17).

I know this because of lived this more than once. The most difficult period of dealing with it was my time as a church planter. I have not posted much on this but suffice to say, I did a good job of nearly ruining our family.  Religion and clergy are just as susceptible to the effects of being unhealthy as the rest of humanity. And this is the point:

We are ALL human.

And it is time to admit our knowledge of ourselves and our world is too limited and we are too busy.

Enter meditation. And shut up for just a moment too.

Meditation IS NOT a one size fits all, climb to the top of a mountain in India, and sit "criss-cross-apple-sauce" in a toga with some old guru.  So just stop it.

So you are aware, the concept and practice of meditation is a significant part of the spiritual practices of Judeo-Christian Scripture and teaching, even if it has been ignored. Just for the record, there are other verses but Psalm 119:15 offers us these words: "I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways." Just because a word or concept is shared among differing religions, does not mean it is the same. I have read teachers dismiss meditation as being a false practice. However, I have not heard or read any dismiss fasting as a spiritual practice and Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and many other religions teach fasting (I have links but really prefer not to attract trolls. I really DON'T have time to feed THEM).

What we need to do is understand, learn it and practice it. The benefits of meditation are, like fasting, varied as well. Alice Walton wrote in Forbes, how scientific studies are, "...reporting that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being." ( 2/9/15. Accessed 1/11/17).

In the Christian tradition, meditation is understood as "mulling" or "chewing" on a Scripture. I suppose we could just change the word "meditation" but this seems silly. But this is what I try to do in my One Minute Meditations. It is simply taking a scripture passage, in context, and asking a few reflective questions to get one thinking, mulling, and chewing, basically focusing on one verse - one concept: "what does this mean for me?"

Our lives are going to get filled up, even if we stop. We need very much to be more attentive to how we handle it. Taking a break - taking a vacation - taking a day off - praying - meditating - none of these are a waste of time, they are to be a way for life to take root and flourish.

I am no expert but in my journey through the "valley of suck" and these weeks on disability, I have been able to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, learn to eat better, and keep the weight off for over a year for my heart health. I have been able to work on writing (two book drafts are done), and I've also been able to rediscover my love for cooking through using cast iron cookware. It has not been easy, but I can tell you I also have watched less TV and read more.

I credit a good bit of this to practicing stillness and meditation. Make the most of meditation - even if it is just the one minute variety.

MAY I ASK: What are you gonna do about it? What 1 simple habit will you do to fill 1 minute of your day to meditate?

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