It Was a Tough Week
I had a tough week about two weeks ago. A combination of factors probably contributed to my low and hypersensitive mood. I had just gotten back from a lovely vacation and going through piles of emails and work does not make for a pleasurable return.
Additionally, San Diego was experiencing a heat wave during that time. Our home, and most San Diego homes I’m learning, don’t have air conditioning, so it was brutal. That, on top of the fact that I was 35 weeks pregnant and constantly sweating anyway.
There were also a couple of key decisions I was waiting to hear back about. I’m not a very patient person to begin with so it was tormenting for me to wait for these responses I had no control over.
I was sour to everyone around me, distracted, and on edge. The physical representation of my internal state was me standing with arms crossed and foot tapping, waiting for the world to change and make me happy.
As usual, I didn’t realize how tense and angry I was until I snapped out of it.
And what snapped me out of it? A powerful meditation session.
Why it took me so long to set aside time to do one, beats me. I teach about the benefits of this stuff! I even have a blog post on the importance of regular spiritual practices to ground and align us with peace, courage and trust to live to the fullest.
But you know what happens? Sometimes, even we spiritual teachers, forget. We forget.
The particular spiritual practice I did was with a small group at my church and it’s called “Praying a Sacred Moment.” It was developed by Claremont School of Theology Professor of Spiritual Formation, Dr. Frank Rogers.
The spiritual practice is similar to the well-known Daily Examen in that you reflect upon the moments where you felt the presence of the divine most strongly but this one takes you deeper in that you pinpoint how the divine was alive in that moment and how to then spread that sacred presence to the rest of your life.
I was leading the mediation so I was skeptical as to whether I’d be able to get anything out of it. Boy was I shocked by how immersed I became and renewed by the practice.
I’ve shared on this blog that motherhood isn’t easy for me. I love my son like crazy and even frequently get sucked into watching videos of him each night after he’s gone to sleep, despite the fact that I was dying for him to go to bed just minutes before.
But I find spending time with my toddler incredibly tedious. I’m the kind of person who derives much satisfaction from productivity and adult conversations or just spending time by myself doing whatever gives me pleasure: cooking, going on a long walk, shopping, enjoying a cup of tea.
So to bend down on the ground to engage with my son as he plays with legos for an extended period of time is…really boring for me.
During the meditation session though, as I was reflecting on all the moments of my week where I felt the presence of the divine most strongly, an unexpected moment came to mind. My son and I were walking along the periphery of our church parking lot picking up rocks, leaves and other interesting elements from nature. We were commenting on the colors, textures, smells. I didn’t have my iPhone. The wind from the canyon next to the church blew through our hair, providing relief from the heat. There was nothing else I had to do and nowhere else I had to be, then right there with him.
That was where the sacred was most present in my life that week.
As I let myself bask in that memory and relive that moment once again, heavy tears streamed down my cheeks because I was so moved by the beauty of it all. I was experiencing fully the joy of that mundane, everyday moment.
I came out of that meditation transfigured. The anger and tension that inhabited my body dissolved and everybody around me noticed: my husband, congregants, my son. Kindness, patience, and joy emanated from my body.
While I obsess about being more productive and reaching goals, I’m learning over and over again in my life that the actual substance of life lies in those moments of simply being present to others.
Again, I of all people, should know this. I wrote an entire essay that went viral where 90-somethings confirmed this for me.
What can I say? I just. keep. forgetting.
I am ever so grateful for these spiritual practices that reveal to me this secret nugget of wisdom time and time again.
For those who want to participate in this meditation for yourselves, I made a recording for you.
Set aside about 10 minutes by going to a quiet place where you will not be interrupted to do this exercise.