Last Sunday something so beautiful happened, it fueled my entire week!
I looked at my phone to check if it was time for me to cook dinner, and it was only 2:31 pm. “That can’t be!” I thought. I had gone to church, gotten donuts, had a nice breakfast with the kids, and took Blais shopping for bagels and a pair of pants. Somehow the time had stretched for me and, for the first time in a very long time, I felt unhurried, unstressed and unpressured. The day (and time) felt like eternity.
I sat down in my (tidy) office to draw/write some thank-you cards. (I cleaned my office last week after I wrote about willpower, motivation and self-discipline, lol.) There was a beautiful glow coming from a lamp next to me and music coming from our piano room. My two at-home sons were playing jazz. I had no idea they could play jazz!!! My middle son (Evan) showed my youngest (Blais) how to play some chord progression, while he improvised a melody…
I could see myself smiling from inside out. And I could feel this palpable wave of gratitude envelop my body… but it was all so calm… so deeply peaceful… None of it disturbed the day… I let it all flow, not latching onto it… without trying to control it with my desire to make it last longer, or to capture it… Or compare it with any memories…
When I described this to my therapist, I felt it all over again. I said: “It felt so sacred… so rich with peace and stillness.” “Like eternity?” she asked… I smiled. “Yes… and like love, grace, peace, and God,” I replied.
Last week when I asked about topics to write on, Patricia sent this:
Write about “balancing right and wrong, and keeping on a good foundation to balance the good word, action, and intention in our lives!”
She shared with me a “Set of Disciplines” she likes to use as a tool to achieve this balance… What Patricia meant is how we act in tricky situations: How do we disagree with someone and not get angry? How do we show kindness to someone who is verbally offending or even abusing us? How do we help others without exhausting ourselves in the process? Or even how do we have great jobs, accumulate material wealth and stay surrendered to God and love – instead of protecting our treasure? I’m sure you can think of a hundred examples of this.
The “Set of Disciplines” she shared was a beautiful set of a Catholic version of Mindfulness practices.
It was constructed by French priest Fr. William Joseph Chaminade, who lived during the French Revolution of 1789. He called it the “System of Virtues” consistent with Five ‘Silences.’
I’d actually call it a ‘Set of Mindfulness Practices’ instead of ‘Virtues’ because ‘virtues’ may trigger doubt in my ability to actually do this – where discipline or practice is something I can develop.
In today’s words, I also think Mindfulness is a better word than ‘Silences.’
“Silence” for me silences all words, thoughts and feelings and lets me rest without action. When I ‘silence myself’ I am still… letting go of ALL thoughts (mind), signs, words, imaginations and feelings – so my soul (my awareness) can rest and surrender control (surrender into God’s presence).
With that in mind, here is the ‘Set’ that, yes I too believe can help us create that balance in life and experience the sense of peace, God’s presence in our lives, and love.
MINDFULNESS OF WORDS – paying attention to what words we use – whether we are speaking to others or saying to ourselves “I’m stupid!” is not constructive or life-giving, so if you wouldn’t say it to your child, you shouldn’t say it to yourself. Also, the word ‘never’ is a trap word – “You never help me!” we may accuse someone, when we really mean “I need your help.”
MINDFULNESS OF SIGNS – being aware of signs that we give out with our body language or level of presence to each other. Sitting at lunch with someone and checking out your phone says, “I have more important things to do than to visit with you.”
MINDFULNESS OF THE MIND – ‘the practice of filling our minds with life-giving thoughts and memories and letting go of those thoughts that cripple us’ (I love this!)
MINDFULNESS OF IMAGINATION – ‘helps us to dream dreams and reconfigure the possibilities for ourselves and the world’ – and filter out worry and anxiety. Imagining your failure or the scenario that you fear the most over and over again can be very destructive.
MINDFULNESS OF PASSIONS – I don’t like the word “passions” here… but Patricia’s little piece of paper with descriptions says: “identifying feelings and energies they evoke.” Feelings are emotional reactions to people, places and things. Thoughts and memories also create emotional reactions in our body. Being mindful of these – observing them without judgment is what many therapists use in achieving a good balance of being… which then becomes a solid foundation for everything else in our lives – our relationships, our actions, our successes and our inner peace.
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