Tag Archives: Jon Kabat-Zinn

Prayer

I have written in the past regarding the difficulties I  have had “staying present” to the trail.  My mind would get stuck in some endless loop of worries, narratives, thoughts and concerns that often pulled me away from my time in the wilderness. I would be lost in some past experience or future anxiety; my thoughts raced everywhere but on the trail itself.  My 2016 trip had some of that, but much less than the past.  My daily practice of meditation has quieted (but not tamed) the wild beast.

04-0815-granite-pass-1-2Part of my practice on this trip was to deliberately take time in the morning to practice lovingkindness meditation, something I learned in my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class. Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book Full Catastrophe Living describes the practice

To practice lovingkindness meditation, we begin with awareness of our breathing.  Then we consciously invite feelings of love and kindness towards ourselves to arise, perhaps remembering a moment when we felt completely seen and accepted by another human being and inviting those feelings of kindness and love to re-emerge. . . . Then perhaps saying inwardly to ourselves simple phrases that you can make up yourself, “May I be free from inner and outer harm, may I be healthy.”  After a time we can then go on, if we care to, to invoke someone else, perhaps a person we are close to and care deeply about.   We can hold the person in our heart as we wish the person well: “May she (he) be happy, may she (he) experience love and joy.”  In the same vein we may then include others we know and love. (page 214-215).

I see this as a form of intercessor prayer and have adapted it to my own meditation practice.  On the trail each morning, I would invest time reciting the following prayer, starting with myself,

May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be filled with peace and ease.
May I be strong and alert.
May I be filled with the Holy Spirit.

I then expanded the prayer to my family and to those I know.   As the hike went on, my circle of names grew wider and wider: the thru-hikers I met, the trail crews clearing trail, the National Forest administrators and staff.   Often I ended including the whole creation.

49-0818-indian-pb-by-trail-compress

Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!  Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!  Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!  Young men and women alike, old and young together!  Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. Psalm 148:7-13

 

Each morning, after my time of prayer, I discovered that I was centered and at peace.  I could actually be present on the trail through the rest of the day.

What forms of prayer bring you peace?

 

Fresh Start

I confess that I often live on autopilot. I wake at the usual time of 6:00 am.  I run the same four mile route most mornings. Afterwards, I heat my milk in the microwave in the same cup and pour in the same amount of instant coffee and creamer. And the day rolls on.

Autopilot is not all bad, but I am discovering that I often use autopilot with people as well. When I greet someone at church or my small group, I exchange the same daily pleasantries, expecting the same answers. I am beginning to realize that I may be “sleepwalking” through much of life.

This month I am embracing the idea of a Fresh Start. It comes from Eugene Peterson’s translation of a familiar verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The familiar NRSV translation is:

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

Eugene Peterson’s The Message is:

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!

Morning Yoga has helped me focus on a fresh start

I seek to practice a fresh start each day, aware of the new each moment holds. Part of this fresh start has been using morning yoga as a form of meditation to open my mind, body and spirit.   Like a young child exploring the world, I seek to see a new creation. In Christ I am a new creation, with a new mind and new eyes and ears to experience God’s world.  I want to embrace Peterson’s admonition, “Look at it!”

John Kabat-Zinn in Full Catastrophe Living describes this as beginner’s mind. He writes,

The next time you see somebody who is familiar to you, ask yourself if you are seeing this person with fresh eyes as he or she really is, or if you are only seeing the reflection of your own thoughts about the person, and your feelings as well. Try it with your children, your spouse, friends, co-workers, and even with your dog or cat if you have one. Try it with problems when they arise. Try it when you are outdoors in nature. Are you able to see the sky, the stars, the trees, the water, and the rocks as they are right now, with a clear and uncluttered mind? Or are you actually seeing them only through the veil of your own thoughts, opinions, and emotions. (Fully Catastrophe Living, 2013, p. 24).

The idea of approach each day, each moment, each encounter as a Fresh Start is challenging. I often slip back into autopilot thinking and reacting. Yet each time I slip, I have the opportunity to embrace a new Fresh Start.  Thanks be to God.

How do you respond to God’s invitation to a Fresh Start?

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see you new each day.