Epiphany to Easter Sculpting Project 2: Stop Here: Week 2
Living with my thinking brain is a lot like riding this horse. She has been stronger and smarter than me for most of my life. She has served me well, much of the time. But other times she has not been helpful. Since high school she and I have come head to head (so to speak) over one particular desire. I wanted to learn to practice God’s presence like Bro. Lawrence and Frank Laubach. My thinking mind considered this a suspicious restriction. I made many attempts to redirect her but she always proved too strong for me.
I had my first breakthrough when I began a prayer practice that asked me to quiet my thoughts and stay in that quiet with God. I began to discover a new relationship with my thoughts. My thinking brain was/is still stronger but I was becoming smarter. I discovered to my amazement that my old thinking brain was trainable.
This Here Now Sculpting Project is one of the training games I discovered. In this project we ask the thinking part of our brain to be quiet for a few minutes while we let other parts of our brain experience the now. You may have noticed that the thinking part of our brain is not accustomed to being quiet.
This project brings us head to head with our thoughts.
One particularly helpful insight about thoughts came to me from reading Martian Seligman’s Authentic Happiness and Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight.
There is a part of our brain that has the job of story-teller. That part takes tiny bits of information and puts them together into a story to help us to understand our world. It does the very best it can given the information it has to work with. When Taylor had her stroke she lost this part of her brain for a while and when it came back to functioning she was able to observe it in a new way. She found the stories it made up very amusing, that is until she realized that her brain fully expected her to believe the stories. As Seligman explains, all our thoughts are not ‘the Gospel Truth’.
Just having a thought does not make it true or helpful.
Through the prayer practice I realized my thoughts were just thoughts. They were the best my mind could manage, but that did not make them all-powerful. I could ask them to rest quietly for a while. When they interrupted I could just smile and gently let them go.
This ‘gently let go’ is important because if I start to get upset I introduce strong emotion into the moment and this emotion has a compelling bodily component. You may have noticed that quieting down emotion is harder than quieting down more neutral thoughts. It can be done, but make it easy and skip the strong emotion.
I suggest we do not beat ourselves up in this 2- 5 minute project. Our thoughts will wander. Just try not to follow them too far. I’ve learned to smile when I notice what is happening. I release the thought to Jesus and then return to the moment of here and now.
Sculpting Project 2: Stop Here: Week 2
- Select the time of day you will do this project and post it to us. (Very helpful step to decrease our need for motivation. We all have 2-5 minutes. It’s the choosing that is hard. So make the choice once and post it.)
- Each day for 2-5 minutes keep your mind on where you are at.
- Post us your observations, questions, frustrations, joys. (Your posts are your gift to the group.)
- No beating yourself up,
- No worrying,
- No planning,
- No analyzing
- Yes, observe anything that is actually happening. Sights, sounds, smells.
Yes, observe how your body is feeling.
Yes, sit, walk or do a mindless task like dishes.
Yes, remember that our unseen God surrounds us.
Yes, dive into the present moment and enjoy.
If the house catches on fire, get up and take action.
If the dog wants out, get up and let him out; love is the first law.
Otherwise take the reins of your mind for 2-5 minutes and discover your life in the only moment you have. Now.
My mind/horse has begun to get used to the idea that I want to
take more control of her direction. It feels good.