We live in a fast-paced world, with a constant stream of input from email, news, texts, and social media. Whether we are working from home or are in retirement, we are bombarded with so much stimulation that the still small voice inside is easily crowded out, and we lose our grounding.
Mindfulness meditation is a spiritual practice that has its origin in the teachings of the Buddha and has been described as “learning to become aware, in the moment, of exactly what is happening, without judgement.” (Jon Kabat-Zinn) As we learn to quiet the mind by centering our awareness on the body or the breath, we begin to slow down, the mind becomes quieter, and we become more receptive to the voice of the Spirit.
Friends are not often taught how to center down in worship, how to turn toward the Spirit and deepen the experience of worship. Practices like mindfulness teach us how to be more present to the subtle workings of the Divine in our lives, how to turn towards and return to our centers.
Many Quakers have found the practice of mindfulness useful. Steve Smith writes in Quaker in the Zendo (Pendle Hill Pamphlet #370), on exploring practices not native to Friends:
If I hadn’t traveled, I might never have discovered treasures I already possessed. I came upon unexpected treasures in early Quaker literature, contemporary Quaker scholars, and elsewhere. I find the gift of my own heart, floating in the mind of God.
The Friends Counseling Service of PYM is sponsoring a free 7-session series on mindfulness meditation this fall, led by Deborah Cooper of Germantown Monthly Meeting. Join us Thursdays from October 8 to November 19, at 2 pm, for a brief talk, a guided meditation, and a time for questions and comments. Come for one class or the entire series, as your schedule permits.