Focused activity helps still the mind

By Dave Henning / November 4, 2021
focused activity

“For some people, a focused activity can help still their mind — such as taking a drive down a long stretch of road with few traffic lights or other cars, walking, knitting, or making bread . .  . what St. Augustine calls solvitar ambulando: ‘It is solved by walking.’ “- Ken Shigematsu

In Chapter 4 (“Meditation: Listening to the Music of Heaven”) of Survival Guide for the Soul, Ken Shigematsu cites psychologist Dr. Anne Wilson-Schaef.  The doctor asserts that 98 percent of us find ourselves addicted to something that helps us cope with life.  However, Ken observes, where do you find the other 2 percent!

Certainly, an addiction disrupts as well as displaces God as the center of our lives.  But, prayer and meditation serve as powerful ways to overcome an addition.  Because we take a receptive rather than expressive posture in those two practices.  In addition, our posture is attentive rather than spoken.

Often the Lord calls us to stillness before Him.  Hence, we wait and watch for His soul changing work within us.  Yet, sometimes this stillness means moving, not literally sitting still.  For example, John Cassian, a fifth-century spiritual father, instructed the monks under his care to weave baskets as they prayed and meditated.  Because Cassian knew that at times a simple physical movement cultivates a greater stillness of our mind.

In conclusion, Pastor Ken uses his love of the ocean to compare meditation with sailing.  Ken writes:

“As we sit quietly in God’s presence and relax, garbage may rise to the surface on the sea of our lives. . . .  When we offer this garbage up to God, we experience purging and cleansing. . . .

But at other times we may receive the gift of being quietly surrounded by the holy, loving, mysterious presence that upholds us and the world.  Most people do not experience anything particularly dramatic during meditation. . . . Nevertheless, I find that the best way to being the day is to be still and remember that God is God, and I am not.”

Today’s question: Do you prefer to use focused activity to help still your mind?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Depleted selves or gifted selves to offer?”

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Dave Henning

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