STEP ELEVEN CONTINUED: Seek through prayer, meditation, and contemplation to improve our relationship with the Divine, praying for clarity of mind, an open heart, and further ways to heal ourselves and our world from the abuses of religion.
Instruction: Empty your mind.
A friend recommended that I try Zen meditation, so I located a local group and started attending. After a session or two, I commented to the facilitator that I was having trouble silencing my mind of all the thoughts that would come and go. He informed me that I shouldn’t try to silence the mind, because only a dead person can remove all thoughts from their mind. Instead, he suggested I empty my mind of unwanted thoughts by focusing my mind. That focus could be on a flower or a pastoral scene or on anything I wanted to concentrate on. I’ve since left that Zen practice, but I took with me fond memories of stillness, love, and warmth. Mixed with those thoughts are also thoughts of boredom, seeming failure, and futility. I discovered that meditation is a personal practice and that the form varies and so do the results. What works for one might not work for another.
Perhaps the most useful concept to me was the idea of emptying the mind. Most people tend to have a lot of plates spinning in the air, and they spend a lot of energy going from one to another trying to make sure that the spinning doesn’t stop. Meditation can help us remove the plates from the sticks that support them and set them down long enough to discern whether we need or want to spin plates, what the purpose of spinning plates is, and whether or not we might be able to accomplish the same thing by doing something totally different. If our ultimate goal is to connect with The Divine, then meditation becomes one more tool to help us. If our model of prayer is talking with The Divine, then perhaps meditation is our model for clearing our minds of thoughts that would interfere with hearing from The Divine. In prayer, we speak what we know, and, sometimes, we tend to think we know more than we do. Mediation is a means to release the known, and the unknown, and simply listen.
Today’s exercise is to spend time in prayer and meditation. If you normally begin with prayer, change it up and begin with mediation before prayer. If you begin with meditation, then change and begin with prayer. During meditation, begin by focusing on an object such as a tree, or a flower. Empty your mind of everything that is not the object, and if unwanted thoughts arise, simply set them aside.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.