This is one of the things that silent contemplative prayer has helped me with during my fairly short time doing it.
I’m still a headcase. But I’m noticing more moments in my daily life where I feel that I’ve (metaphorically speaking) sunk just a couple inches deeper into my life.
It’s a really hard thing to describe with words. I guess I just feel more rooted. Like my nonphysical center of gravity is a little more solid.
In Western culture, we tend to live from the neck-up (totally guilty of this myself) moving through life in our heads as we assign our logical, rational mind the sole job of running the show. This works great in a controlled environment when we have a model of the past to go off of.
But when things start going haywire in life (if even a little), the rational mind has a hard time making connections. We get mentally and emotionally thrown off center.
The news, the job market, the housing market, religion, family dynamics, male/female roles, economics, parenting — so much of life is in upheaval right now. We’re going through a huge paradigm shift and it’s making a lot of us crazy, especially when we grow up believing that this stuff should be black and white.
Binary, baby. Let's keep this stuff simple.
But, life says no (yes, particularly at this historical moment, but I think the only constant throughout history is how in flux it is).
The world is going through profound shifts on both a macro (huge, worldwide events) and micro (like, at your family’s Thanksgiving table) level. And with the internet, we’re plugged into all of it in real time. At the same time that we read on Facebook about your Uncle Henry’s shirtless diatribe at the dinner table, we get a Breaking News alert about a mass killing on the other side of the planet.
The rational mind can’t hang on to this stuff.
But this ancient practice of sitting in silence and releasing my mental mutterings is helping me just… be here. Trust me, I’m off-balance plenty of times throughout my day, but I’m noticing more and more that I’m just a little more rooted.
Instead of constantly trying to play chess with my life (a futile, fruitless exercise), I’m more often just… There.
I have a long way to go, but if two inches deeper is where I am right now, I’ll take it.