Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cooling off in the Spacious Places

When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” 
                                           --Psalm 118:5-6

This is the Des Moines pier that goes out about 100 feet over Puget Sound.  It was one of the spacious places I thought of when I saw this passage.  I take a lot of walks down along the waterfront when I'm frustrated.  Where are your spacious places?  Spacious spots are places where just being there brings a balm to your restless or drained or anxious mind and heart.  Feeling out of sorts, out of control or upset in any way is frequently most effectively countered with physical activity.  So a walk in a spacious place is perfect.  I have almost mastered the walking meditation that Thich Nhat Hanh describes in Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames.

The meditation goes very simply like this.  You focus all your attention on your breathing -- the air going in and out of your body.  Then, note the feel of each foot as you walk.  You can even count the steps you take during an in-breath and on the out-breath.  It's remarkable to me that something this simple really does dissipate any chaotic swirling of feelings.  Thich Nhat Hanh says, "With every step, you can arrive in the present moment, you can step into the Kingdom of God." (p.23)  So try it - take a walk in a spacious place when you are hard pressed and just breathe, "The Lord is with me; I'll not be afraid." 

Circle me, Lord.  Keep comfort near and discouragement afar.  Keep peace within and turmoil. out.  Amen  (Celtic Caim prayer)

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