Friday, June 27, 2008
This is not good.
It turns out the Carmelites have shut down their wonderful website. It was just there last Friday, which was actually Wednesday. Then on Friday, which was really Thursday, it was gone.
You'll be sorry, too, because now I am stuck trying to tell you what they had to say about concentrating. I'll be lucky if I can concentrate long enough to do that. I did what they said, though, and here's how it went for me.
Relax and clear your mind.
We know this won't last long. That's the whole problem. Your mind is clear for about two seconds and then "wham!", you start thinking stupid things again.
Quick! While your mind is clear for a second take a look around you. Take in the color, the smell and nothing else. Don't look at things and think, "That's a desk. That's a chair." Just take in the color. In other words, eliminate the label.
The Carmelites suggest that you take a walk in the woods, or somewhere in nature and do this. It calms the mind. It helps eliminate thinking.
Step Three: Practice doing this as often as you can. While doing the dishes, say, or changing diapers. It will really help with changing diapers, I think. You'll hardly notice what's really going on there.
So, out I went to take in nature. I live in the city. I had to run an errand and walk up to the drugstore which is three blocks away. I always walk up the alley, because to walk up the sidewalk on the street is to walk next to an endless stream of tailpipes.
I took in the colors. The grays, the crunching sound, the bright orange of the smashed Del Taco cup, the fading red of the flattened Marlboro hard pack. This is a good thing. A smashed orange Del Taco cup is no longer a cup, or litter, a nuisance or a blight, without it's label as such. It's just orange.
I was doing fine until I got the the Walgreen's. Outside was an old lady trying to enter the store with her walker. She was teetering along taking teeny tiny steps. It was going to take her most of the month to go in and purchase something and leave again. I worried about her the whole time I was there. I got back on track after I got out of there. There are actually hibiscus around the Walgreen's. Some actual nature. Some green and yellow and pink. Just before I re-entered the alley, I saw two homeless men being handcuffed by the police.
That was so sad. When you don't label them as homeless men, or a blight on society, you just see two souls being humiliated with a very uncertain and unpleasant near future.
I'm not very good at reiterating the Carmelites' lesson plan. It was so good. Why didn't they just leave up their archives? Now you're stuck with me.
Please try it anyhow. What it will eventually do for you is help make everything you do a prayer. That's the main value. And it will most certainly get you through a rosary, if not a Rosary.
A reader reminds us:
Distractions happen to everyone. They happen to some people even more than to others. All the brain-training and willpower in the world won't "cure" a person with ADD, for example. I wrote a post last month about distractions and prayer. I wrote it with people with ADD in mind, but I think it is good for everyone. Sister, if you would be so kind as to allow me a link, it's here. http://ginkgo100.blogspot.com/2008/05/addadhd-religion-prayer-for.html
True enough. I caution everyone, however, not to go around pretending you have ADD to wiggle out of trying harder. It isn't fair to the people who actually have ADD and it will land you in Purgatory.