courage in stillness

With all of these hours at home, now seemed like a good time to do a little self reflection, so when my sister invited me to a 21 day meditation practice, I was in. Then day 1 came and I found it impossible to sit still and engage with my own self for 15 minutes. Completely impossible.

I sit still all day, but while I’m sitting, I’m doing. I’m reading or watching or working, my mind ever busy even as my body is completely at rest. This meditation practice was asking me to pay attention to my body and I was simply not interested.

Acknowledging and releasing the stress my body was holding felt dangerous, as if I was the one holding all of this together, and if I let it go, it would billow out, indiscriminately taking down everyone in its path.

At this point in the pandemic, most of us have found some sort of reasonable balance. We may not like it, but we’ve made it this far and we’ve learned the tricks that are working with our work, family, and friends. It feels dangerous to intentionally invite change into our souls, especially now that things are changing once again. We can only take so much upheaval in life.

At the same time, figuring out who we are and what we need tells us everything about how to healthily thrive, so this work is also incredibly important right now.

Instead of meditation, I went for a long walk and listened to Brené Brown’s podcast with Chris Heuertz on the enneagram. It’s good, really good, and the perfect amount of “I see me” and “I see you” in this stressful time.

It’s a reminder that the ways we see the world differently are GOOD and necessary. It’s a reminder that God created us to work with one another, not against one another. It’s a reminder that we need to take time to understand who we are so that we can healthily grow.

When I returned home, I went in search of Heuertz’ book to remind myself what suggestions he has for people like me who are looking for spiritual growth. Guess what he recommends. Yep. To engage our bodies in the stillness. Exactly what I was fighting against. I guess it’s true that we grow through engaging in difficulty, even when that difficulty is simply sitting still for 15 minutes.

The reopening of America has been scary for me because it means uprooting the safety we’ve created in our bubbles and determining new ways to move about in the world. I needed to reconnect with myself and with God before I could decide how to healthily move forward, so I finally decided to add contemplative prayer to my day.

I sit outside, eyes closed, and walk my mind through my body. I feel the feelings sitting in my shoulders and my hips and my heart and my throat and hand them over to God, letting them billow out, but safely into God’s waiting love.

Those few minutes each day have given me courage I forgot I had, allowing me to be both vigilant for myself and my family and compassionate for those in my community. Contemplative prayer does this, it’s a gift that helps us to recognize, accept, and affirm our mutual connection to one another and to God.

For a brief overview on contemplative prayer, visit Fr. Richard Rohr’s guide on the Center for Action and Contemplation site. You can also pick up Chris Heuertz’ book, The Sacred Enneagram. And definitely listen to the May 20, 2020 episode of Brené Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us. Taking some time to better know ourselves gives us the strength and the courage to be a part of bettering our world.

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