This is the second in a series of posts on my path to Christian mindfulness practices. The series started here.
Mountaintops were not the only places I recognized my run-away mind. I remember getting trapped in catastrophe-thinking-patterns after some criticism at church. My sermon hadn’t gone well, I made some flub leading worship, or too few people showed up for new member class. My thought pattern would devolve into a revolving rant that “I was worthless” or “I am a terrible pastor.” Occasionally I recognized the untruth in these thoughts, yet I struggled to let them go. I would pray asking for God’s help, but at times prayer only added power to the whole destructive thought pattern.
In 2013 my life hit bottom. For a variety of reasons, I separated from my wife. I moved into the farmhouse owned by the church where I was serving at the time. My wife and I started marriage counseling shortly afterwards and I started visiting with another pastoral counselor for myself. Though we both wanted the marriage to work, we each had our turf to protect. I was lost and uncertain what path to take.
Then one day, after describing my mini-tantrum over a broken mailbox, our marriage counselor mentioned that I might benefit from a Mindful Based Stress Reduction Class. By God’s grace that suggestion stuck with me as my answer to prayer. I went on-line, found where a class was being offered locally and registered. What did I have to lose? Like a driver hopeless lost without a phone or map, I figured I needed to stop and ask for directions.
The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class started on a Monday morning in March of 2014. I entered the storefront yoga studio to discover I was the only male in the class of fourteen. The instructor welcomed us and led us through a meditative body scan. What I immediately appreciated was that the class was not a series of lectures, but actual practices that engaged our body, mind and spirit. The piece of wisdom that stood out that morning was the instructor’s insistence to practice the various exercises and meditation daily, whether one felt like it or not. The benefits would not be instantaneous, but if we practiced over the ten weeks we would see benefits in our lives. I made the decision to practice daily and trust that the Spirit of God would work. I was not disappointed.
Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding.Proverbs 3:13
Next time: some of the lessons I learned through the MBSR class.