Nearly three years ago I started a path that eventually lead to my own Christian mindfulness practice. Over the next weeks I will describe my journey.
The vista was spectacular, what I had dreamed it would be. But my mind kept jumping to internal perspectives.
I was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) near Glacier Peak in Washington State. I was in the middle of an eight day hike that I had been planning for months. That day the trail followed a high ridge whose side dropped a thousand feet into a deep green river valley. Beyond the valley were several snow capped peaks. The sky was clear, the alpine flowers brilliant and the view stretched for miles. Still my mind could not stay centered.
As I walked I noticed that my mind kept jumping back to Minnesota, to worries about work or family. Who could I find to help with the church stewardship drive next fall? What sermon series would be helpful to the congregation? How were my children doing, each starting new work adventures? These were not “bad” thoughts, but they certainly distracted me from being centered on the present path.
I remember stepping back (inside my head) and noticing how these different trains of thought were jumping around. Who exactly was this observer inside my head noticing the jumps? I prayed, asking God to care for these different concerns, but my prayers seemed only to add to the confusing cacophony of thoughts and ideas rolling around in my head.
As the trail began to descend from the ridge, I was surprised to be passed by a fellow solo backpacker. He was moving at a fast clip with a light pack. He had the harden look of a PCT thru-hiker, but he was southbound. May a yo-yo hiker, I speculated. I watched him quickly disappear around a corner. My mind thought, “Moving that fast he must be missing out on truly seeing the spectacular view.” But another thought followed, “But are you any different, with your mind jumping around? Are you present to this moment?”
I knew that I wanted to change my busy mind but unsure how to go about it. So I asked Jesus for help.
Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
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