Reflecting Poolwith Reverend Greg Coles, M.Div.
While anticipating my six weeks of sabbatical, Feb 5-Mar 22, I have also been enjoying the spiritual practices we have been studying in our recent “Walking with the Masters” series. Of special significance to me, is Mindfulness Meditation, because of the grounding energy it offers. I’ve been enjoying and recommend a wonderful book on this topic by Dan Harris, called “Meditation for Fidgety Sceptics.” Even the title suggested it was the right book for me.
More recently, I came across an article in Time Magazine, also by Dan Harris, which captures his unique and pragmatic writing style. It also reinforces much of what I have been sharing about meditation in my Sunday lesson. Here’s the article:
Meditation can help in the era of angry politics
by Dan Harris
Meditation is by no means a cure-all for our era of man tweets and mindless tribalism. I’ve been meditating for years, and yet during one of the Trump- Clinton presidential debates I stress-ate a family-size bag of popcorn. I didn’t realize what I’d done until I looked down to see my feet surrounded by stray kernels. Nevertheless, I really do believe meditation can help you survive this season of discontent and division.
When you’re blinded by outrage, you’re unable to understand the views of people with whom you disagree. A consistent meditation practice can help you know your biases. Does your heart soar every time the Mueller probe inches closer to the White House? Or do you own a mug emblazoned with the words LIBERAL TEARS? When you’re more aware of your own tribal instincts, you may be more inclined to venture out of your ideological bubble and examine opposing views. Next thing you know, you’re refraining from nasty tweets and even having civil conversations with your uncle. Cutting down on wasted emotional churn frees up energy to do things that really make a difference like volunteering. Multiply this by enough people and it could inject significant light into America’s chasm of toxicity.
I recently took a road trip across America, with the goal of meeting wannabe meditators and helping them get over the hump. Time was clearly the biggest obstacle. The good news is that five to 10 minutes a day is a great way to start. The better news is that if five to 10 minutes is too much, one minute still counts. The instructions include just three steps:
1) Sit comfortably. You don’t have to be cross-legged—a chair will do.
2) Close your eyes and bring your full attention to the feeling of your breath. Pick a spot where it’s most prominent: nose, belly or chest.
3) Every time you get distracted—which you will, a million times– just begin again.
I’m not guaranteeing you bulletproof imperturbability, but short daily doses of meditation can make you meaningfully less likely to do things you will later regret. And there’s something else. Sitting and watching your insane inner torrent puts you in touch with a fundamental truth: everything changes. This can be a bitter pill. Nothing lasts—not the dopamine hit from a fistful of popcorn, not even life. But at a time of national tumult, a felt sense of impermanence can also be deeply comforting.
If you enjoy his writing, I recommend the book. I also recommend downloading a free app called 10% Happier—Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, which offers free coaching on mindfulness meditation from a variety of experts in the field, as well as a full library of guided meditations you can experience. This is a free resource to improved happiness.
Another gift you might give yourself is to visit our 7pm Wednesday Night Meditation Group, for guided meditation and a dharma talk. All levels of meditation practitioners are welcome, from beginners to masters.
I’ll be finishing the Meditation book during my sabbatical and practicing along with you.
I also look forward to listening to recordings of the wonderful guest speakers you will have over the next 6 Sundays, who are offering a Lenten Series titled “Give It Up For Life.” More information about that is available in this copy of the Beacon.
If you have questions about my sabbatical, or whom to contact for support in my absence, pick up a Sabbatical Brochure in the Lending Library, chock full of helpful information.
Enjoy Lent and I will see you shortly for Palm Sunday. I hear there will be some kind of parade.