Today’s post is a helpful reflection, exercise and meditation from retreat presenters Susan Boruff and Kathy Anderson. They will be at our Center June 17-21 to present, “Healing Our World One Person at a Time: Discovering How God’s Love Transforms Ourselves, Our Families, Our Communities and Our World”. To learn more about the retreat and these presenters, please click here.
I’ll come to you, so silent in the night
So stealthy, so animal quiet
I’ll be your savior, steadfast and true
I’ll come to your emotional rescue
I’ll come to your emotional rescue
These words were written by the “prophets” called, The Rolling Stones. It reminds me of the words of a true prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, in St. Matthew’s book, chapter 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Please read this scripture out loud several times. Sit with it for a minute or two before you proceed.
In this scripture, Jesus invites us to come to him for rest. He invites us to take his yoke because his yoke is easy. How do we put these words into practice? First look up the word “yoke,” and write down what it means.
Essentially, a yoke is a harness used by oxen and other animals to ease the work of hauling a load.
St. Mark tells us in Chapter 6:30, “The apostles gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile.’
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all been given the gift of being in a “deserted” place. You noticed I used the word “gift.” One of the best gifts we can give God is our listening ear. Listening to God happens when we still our bodies, hearts and minds. Listening to God happens in silence.
Jesus is inviting us to cultivate silence in our lives.
The practice of silence does not come easy to us. We live in an environment of distractions, worries, stress and negative thoughts and emotions.
As a society, we are experiencing the gamut of emotions. Take a few minutes and write down some of the emotions you have felt over the past few weeks. Do this now.
Do you have more negative emotions than positive? Which ones did you write down first?
Most of us don’t take the time to deal with our negative emotions. We tend to shove them away, project them on others or attach to them too tightly.
Here is the good news about emotions. Negative emotions are here for our survival and positive emotions help us live life more fully and help us be social and communicative. We need both.
Practice: Today’s practice is to teach us how to treat our negative emotions with care and respect. To accept them as part of our human condition, knowing that we do not have to be defined by them. The following practice on emotions is adopted from Buddhist psychologist, Loch Kelly. Do this alone or with a partner.
Note: If you are someone who tends to shove emotions away, you might just want to do Step 1 and 2 and gradually shift to step 3. Just sit with and be ok with the emotion that arises.
- Allow one of the negative emotions you wrote down to arise in you. Begin feeling the emotion fully. It might be an emotion that you feel a lot and maybe disapprove of. That’s ok. (I’m going to use sadness as an example.)
- Silently say to yourself, “I am sad.” Fully experience what it is like to say and feel “I am sad.” Stay with this experience until you feel it completely.
- Now, instead of saying, “I am sad,” take a deep full breath and say, “I feel sadness.” Allow yourself to feel “sadness.” Notice the shift from “I am,” to “I feel.” Experience this shift and the new feeling it may bring. Notice your relationship to the feeling. Is there any difference?
- Now, shift again by saying, “I am aware of feeling sadness.” Experience the awareness of feeling sadness fully. Become an observer of the sadness. Notice the different emotional quality that comes from this.
- Now say, “Sadness is welcome.” Experience what welcoming the emotion is like. Say, “I welcome the presence of sadness.” Ask God, The Holy Spirit or Jesus to also embody and embrace the feeling. Sense the support that welcoming brings.
- Feel yourself not identifying with the emotion or not rejecting it, but just be present to the emotion fully from within.
This exercise is intended to release the small “I am” into the hands of the Great I AM.
It is an invitation to “relax the feeling just as you would relax a tense muscle.” (Beatrice Bruteau)
You are invited to share this experience with someone you trust.
Jesus comes to our “emotional rescue” and helps us let go of our negative emotions. Being “yoked” to him, he eases our load, he shares our burden. When we don’t over identify with the emotion, it is easier to let go. This is what we learn in silent meditation- we practice letting go over and over again while keeping our focus on God. Our brain is wired to be like Teflon for positive emotions and Velcro for negative emotions. We have to train the mind so the brain can change. I read somewhere that it is the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. This is our participation in the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)
1 Timothy 4:7…… “train yourself to be godly.” 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
Now, you are invited to spend some time with Kathy, training you on how to let go and let God.
You are invited to find a quiet place to sit with your back straight, which opens up your chest and opens up your heart to receive. The meditation is eight minutes.