My phone vibrated just as we were being seated for lunch. It was a meeting with several people coming together to talk about some of the social services we would be offering through the church. I reached for my phone to read the text message on the screen: “Running late. Be there soon.” I told the meeting attendees that Edna was running late. And then it happened. As I moved my glance off of the phone screen it was as if I was giving a signal to start a race; everyone around the table reached into their pocket or purse to check their telephone for messages. Their actions seem too coordinated and synchronized for me to believe that they were consciously getting a signal from me to check. No this was in the realm of the unconscious. Everyone around the table was reminded that it was time to check for messages, calls, and personal tweets.
Like it or not, technology sends us signals in ways we never expected. Like Pablovian dogs, we respond to different stimulatations sent us by emails, texts, phones, beeps, rings, lights, and flashes. If a small little vibration can trigger an avalanche of phone-checking in a small group, just think of the effects on larger groups. And we do pay for it as a society. We are so distracted by the outside stimuli that are triggering automated responses from us that we have lost opportunities to pray and meditate in the true spirit of these practices.
I can vouch from my personal experience as a priest, on countless occasions, during the most sacred and solemn moments of services and liturgies, a cell phone will ring, ironically in a place we call “sanctuary,” that is, a place that is supposed to be immune from the noise and pollution of the world.
Giving time for prayer and meditation is vital in the healing process. This time has to be spent in the absence of distractions. We will talk about prayer later in this series, today find some time and a place to meditate and let’s begin with a simple exercise.
To conquer illness, clarity of focus is needed. Meditation is the laser beam that focuses and cuts through the disease, allowing the medicine to find and target the spot to be healed. Think of a misunderstanding between you and friend. Before long, one thing leads to another and words are spread between family members. Soon, parents, relatives from both sides get involved and begin to bicker among themselves. If not stopped soon, the problem escalates. The art of meditation sifts through all of excesses and peripheral events and focuses on the main issue.
Tomorrow we will speak more specifically to the practice of mediation. For today, find some time that will become a regular time of day during the next 30 days of the Journey, when you can meditate. Perhaps in the morning? At midday? Before going to bed? Try to set a time you can keep regularly because along with meditation we will develop a pattern and build our sense of discipline. Set aside 15 minutes. Find a place that is remote and/or secluded. Turn off ALL electronic devices. Imagine you’re on a plane and the stewardess has announced that all electronic devices have to be in the off position. The trip you’re on is greater than a plane ride around the world, it’s a Road to Healing. Turn it off and keep it off.
For tonight, try to stay quiet during these 15 minutes. Take a mental inventory of the sounds and feelings you experience. It may be as simple as listening to your breath. The mind will take you places. When you catch yourself thinking of other things, outside the moment, return back to listening to your breath. Don’t panic and don’t be anxious. This is only the first day of this practice. We will be developing it in the days to come.
Most importantly, we’re learning to use the powers and talents that are within us to better our health, our relationships and ourselves. This is the practice for today’s road to healing.
Let us pray,
Heavenly Healer, I open myself this evening for a healing that can come only from a direct hit on the essence of my troubles. Help me to stay open without giving cause for shame or fear, allowing me to come to terms with my vulnerabilities. Allow me to focus on the essence of my troubles and in my openness, allow the solution to find me. Amen.