Oh but I can!
We are all busy these days, even with Covid keeping us home more and sharing spaces with others more, there is still time to get done the matters we most want to get done. That is, in fact, why we are busy, we are doing stuff. We are paying bills, and figuring out how to send our taxes to our city governments who make it bizarrely hard to do so, we are making lunches, buying groceries, eating out, working out, drinking wine, making love, updating social media (hopefully not right after making love???), getting books from the library, reading magazines, scrolling news sites, vacuuming floors, cleaning cat litter…on and on we go.
There is time for the things that matter most to us. Like if we choose to have cats we will choose to clean the litter, it won’t appear optional for long.
We get to choose what takes up our time and where we give our attention. If you do not believe me sit down and chart out your typical day-week-month-year and be honest.
Many of us would say our health, our relationships, and our spiritual wellbeing (at least those who might read this blog) are important to us. Do our calendars suggest this is true, or do only our words suggest as much?
We are aware our spiritual wellbeing will require a time commitment, just as any other priority will.
All of this is by way of introduction to a core tenet in most Transcendental Meditation practices and Christian Meditation is no different. If you read about the practice you will quickly find that many religious and secular leaders over 2000 years have made essentially the same suggestion (based on their experience and the feedback they get from students): if we want to take meditation seriously we must commit at least two (2) twenty minute (20) sessions DAILY.
It sounds like a lot but it is less than two short tv shows, or one longer one. Please, at the very least, before you say you do not have the time, pause and consider if that is true and if so how many minutes a day do you have to invest in yourself?
John Main, that careful and gentle giant, suggested that the good news about this is that even if everything is going great and you are enjoying a wonderful time in the very presence of God we should stop at 30 minutes a session. Meditation is, after all, not something we win, or complete, it is something we do, over years, and if we want to get the full experience we do well to listen to the giants who have gone before us.
Finally, I would say, I often (too often) fail at this routine. I would also say that my life is better when I achieve it, and that maybe there is a sort of placebo effect at play because I feel like I have accomplished something important whenever I achieve the 40 minute mark. I like my life and myself better when I accomplish what I set out to do, and in this case that is merely sit quietly for a few minutes! What could be easier? Just about anything, apparently:(
- Try to meditate before you eat, many saints have noticed a full stomach is worse than a relatively empty one for this. Who knows why.
- Set a reminder on your phone: decide when you believe you are mostly likely to be able to care out your two sessions and have your phone buzz to let. You know the time has come. I have, as a minister, at times ended meetings because I get a notification and I politely tell someone I really must get going I have another meeting. People are always gracious and generally do not even think to ask who the meeting might be with.
- Set a timer: if you want to hit 20 minutes then set a timer and forget about it, no worrying if 20 minutes are over (until the timer goes they aren’t, and no your phone isn’t broken). There are any number of apps that will play gentle music for those minutes if you like.
- Try this for a three day timeframe. Of course, you hope to get a longer run going but it is healthy and helpful to aim for goals we might actually accomplish, they should stretch us a bit but they must be do-able as well. Three days can give us a flavour of what to expect. As we go we might do 2 three chunks in a week, then strong a few 3 day thinks tougher…you get the drift.