We live in such a busy, noisy world. There are so many demands on our time, strength, and attention. Very quickly we can go from deep concentration on a serious issue to the mundane, urgent need to change a poopy diaper. The whiplash can make us cranky. When we’ve cleaned up one mess after another all day or come home from work to find the house looking like a bomb went off in it, anger can tinge everything we say.
Lately my attention has been drawn to a few different means to find more peace in our lives.
The first had to do with eastern meditation and the idea of centering. It involves getting still and being aware of breathing and goes on from there to emptying oneself. Claiming to be a religiously neutral method of relaxation and rejuvenation, its goal is to find God within our own beings, since god and self are really one. The method involves meditation to suspend rational patterns of thought. Though the practice of yoga and other eastern religions may give a semblance of peace, they don’t deal with our need for a relationship with God.
Then I was reading about Ignatian meditation. This is a Christian practice of reviewing one’s day with the intention of detecting and responding to the presence of God throughout the day. This is a wonderful way to begin to see God’s interaction with us in everything we do. Over time we build a history with God. This leads to very practical spirituality.
Then I read a parenting blog by Megan Headly, that talked about the practice of mindfulness. This busy mom saw how important it was to be aware of herself, her children and her reactions to them. She is moving from an irritable, impatient mom to a more patient, thankful mom and her children are also becoming more peaceful since they don’t have to fight for her attention.
Here’s what I see as important to take from these practices.
When we are harried and irritable, a few minutes of quietness and calming would be a great first step to changing our attitudes and the atmosphere of our homes. Even if we have to find our few moments of peace while we’re using the bathroom or running the water to wash a sink full of dishes, purposefully using those moments to get quiet and step back from the fray is helpful.
Making a habit of becoming aware of our surroundings and the interactions of the people around us is a next positive step. When our children are fighting, stepping back and listening may help us to see what the deeper issue is. It may keep us from over-reacting or becoming a loud-mouthed referee. When there is a beautiful flower or lovely cloud formation we stop to admire and call the attention of others to nature around us. By practicing awareness to the present, we will teach our children to respond instead of always reacting to the situations they encounter.
Then taking stock at the end of the day gives us a chance to learn from our experiences and not just run headlong from one crisis to another. Taking time to be aware of God, His character and care for us is the first step. Thanking Him for specific joys and gifts during the day is next. Follow this by reviewing the events of the day. Think about what occurred, how you responded, what you could have done differently, and how God was a part of those events. Finally respond by talking with God. Confess how you fell short of what would please Him and ask His forgiveness. Seek His wisdom, strength and provision for the coming day. Rest in His presence and experience His love for you.
None of us will be perfectly calm all the time, but all of us can grow in our ability to recognize God throughout our day, respond positively to what we encounter, and being thankful to God. As we do, our children will be blessed and our homes will be more peaceful.
To learn more about Ignatian meditation you may go to: The The Examen and Megan’s blog is called afineparent.com