Saturday, November 27, 2010

Feelings, Resistance, and Drawing the Circle Wide

I'm grateful for the posts thus far. Gayle reminds me of my own truth--that I cannot, under any circumstances, do certain things BEFORE my prayer time if I actually want to get there! Since my meditation time usually occurs after I make tea and feed the dog, and since I have to wander past my computer on my way to my little corner, it is one of my biggest spiritual learnings NOT to reach out and turn the darn thing on. Or get involved in cleaning the kitchen, or doing food prep for a retreat. This is especially true on the days when the load is really heavy--when I wake up anxious. I do adjust the amount of time I spend in prayer depending on the needs of the day; I really can't get up at 5 am--or more truthfully, I'm not willing to--when my life starts early. But I try to at least put my butt on the prayer bench if only to say hello to the Christ of my life.

Long ago I had a wise friend who told me that just because I felt terrible, it didn't mean I was doing the wrong thing. It might well mean that I was doing the right thing, and just living through my resistance. I have found this to be very true for my prayer life. I don't usually find that lovely space of peace until I exercise the discipline of sitting through the resistance. It helps not to label myself as a failure, since that makes me feel awful and simultaneously lets me off the hook. It also helps to just hoist myself up and try again--sans judgment--after a couple of days when I let things slip.

Howard Thurman, the black theologian and mystic, writes about drawing all of life into our prayer practice. For me, that means that when I find myself feeling like I am "failing," I put that feeling too inside the circle and see it as part of God's life in me, my life in Christ. Something to work with as opposed to something to shove away from me.