Pay Attention

Perfection does not exist for us mortal, quirky creatures, so I figure there is always room for improvement. In that spirit, I have become intrigued with meditation. Thus far, meditation does not seem intrigued with me. Settling the mind can at times be akin to getting a three-year-old on a sugar high to sit still for a family portrait.

This state of mind is not always a bad thing. It certainly plays a role in the brainstorming aspects of creativity, but as surely as the body needs rest, so does the mind. To allow the mind to ceaselessly career about the various realms of our lives is a form of chaos. There are many ways to focus and settle – reading exercise, etc. – but meditation strikes me as more than that; it is a transformation.

In an effort to learn more about the methods (and challenges) of meditation, I subscribe to the monthly newsletter of WCCM, the World Community of Christian Meditation, which I find quite thought-provoking and instructive on the topic.

This month they have introduced me to the idea of metanoia. While this term has a specific meaning and history in the Bible, it more generally means “a transformative change of heart; especially a spiritual conversion” according to Merriam-Webster. In an article written by Laurence Freeman, OSB, Freeman says “[m]etanoia is the contemplative call of our time.”

More to the point, Freeman says “[t]emporary change can easily be effected” and asks if we can “translate this into a sustainable, radical process of re-visioning the way we live and the effect we are having on our common home.”

Meditation is not, then, about a reprieve or withdrawing for a time, like a spiritual nap. It draws us ever closer to the truth and “changes the way we pay attention to the world and, as a result, changes the world.”

Well, now I feel daunted. Perhaps that is because, as Freeman notes, “today we all start in some degree of damaged capacity for attention.”

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