Adventures in Family Meditation

IMG_5849We have a family meeting every Sunday night.  A few weeks ago at one of these meetings I applied for the role of “Miller Family Healthy Habit Coordinator.”  I told my family that no one will love them more than I do and no one will devote more time to caring for their well-being than I will.   I lovingly explained that I’ve been ardently preparing for this work for approximately 30 years (my twin sisters were born when I was 6 so my mothering career began early) and that I would like to offer them guidance for growth, health, healing and wholeness.  I earnestly explained that there are a lot of other places where my knowledge and experience are in high demand but that the most meaningful place for me to employ these skills is at home with them.  And to top it all off, I would be willing to do this job for free.  After some “where is this going” looks and some laughter, Jessica made a short list of people who she felt were better qualified to fill the position.  Among her preferred applicants were Grandma, Grandpa and Cassie (our dog!?!) but as none of them were available or able to verbally petition for the post I was able to secure it.  I explained that each week I would introduce one new habit for us to incorporate into our routine with the hope that our health and happiness would be enhanced as we seek to care for ourselves and help other people.

We started with meditation because it’s the most logical place to start.  Meditation is a powerful tool for increasing resilience, navigating stress, and growing through struggle.  When you’re a living being, it’s nice to have a few minutes where you just sit still, remember that you have a body and listen to your breath moving in and out of it.  Each night, after Jessica puts on her pjs and brushes her teeth, we sit cross-legged in a haphazard circle and practice meditating together for 2 minutes before we say a family prayer.  To increase kid-appeal, we light a little candle and use the free Insight Meditation Timer app and Jessica gets to choose the chime that signals the beginning and end of our practice.   It’s fun because there are little dots that show you who else in the world is meditating with you.  (We found that Friday evenings are a low point for global meditation while Sundays are pretty popular).  Usually we meditate with around 800 other people and it makes it feel a little less foreign and a lot more communal.

Now before you say “we could never do that” let me reiterate that it’s a practice meaning the whole goal is to try, put forth the effort, put our bodies there, recognizing that most of the time it’s a little crazy with Cassie licking our faces or Jessica staring at the wall (sometimes I peek to see what she’s actually doing while Ritchie and I are closing our eyes).  It’s me telling her to meditate the way I do instead of respecting that she’s going to have her own little 6 year old way of managing things (something you’d think I’d be used to by now…).  It’s Ritchie chanting “ommmmmm” with a playful smirk on his face.  I take it all in stride (probably because I meditate on my own each day so that I can handle whatever these yahoos throw at me 🙂 and I smile.  Meditation is changing our life.

With love,

Lindsay 2.0

 

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Balanced Charity

It can seem rather daunting to just start doling out understanding and I’ve spent countless hours on my knees and on my psychologist’s couch trying to tackle the more delicate aspects of it.  Where I once believed that charity and love meant always giving, giving, giving with no thought of self and trusting the nebulous idea that the Savior will make up whatever we lack, I have come to realize that there must be balance in our offerings.  I fought this principle for a long long long time because I thought I understood charity and I thought I just needed to have more faith.  But charity is a principled love, and her principles are meant to be applied in all of our relationships (self, God, others) simultaneously.  There are very few things that I can ever strike a regular balance with and I think charity has a fluid and forgiving nature.   But if we slide too far out of balance, we can start to feel some very valid resentment and frustration.   And if left un-checked, it’s natural for those feelings to lead to anger, blame and disillusionment.  Like anything else, the process of understanding what charity really entails takes patience-mostly with ourselves.  It also takes guts because some of the things you realize may fly in the face of what you’ve always thought.  It usually takes running straight into my limits and spending some time nursing my wounds down on the ground for me to realize that limits (also known as: my current level of mastery) can and should be respected.  There is a lot of beauty to be viewed when we’re honest about the current dimensions of our development because when we acknowledge the place where our abilities end and we have to determine when it’s needful to venture out beyond that it becomes obvious where His efforts begin.

Let Him love you

Because I’ve had glimpses of what love from Heaven feels like and my soul seems to wake a bit more with each encounter,  I am anxious to understand how to feel that love more completely in my life.  I believe that feeling the dependable love offered by the Father and Son, either from Them or from another person is the single-most motivating force in life.  The sticky part is that we’re all in different places when it comes to understanding what charity looks like and feels like.  Consequently, we’re all in different places when it comes to offering that charity to each other.   I think for the most part, that’s what we’re trying to do though, love each other the way He would.

I believe that our ability to love ourselves the way Heaven loves us is crucial to being able to offer that same genuine love to others.  In fact, I believe understanding how much God loves each of us individually is the surest way to  offer charity to our fellow sojourners.  I believe having a few minutes each day to bask in that love fills the holes in our constantly draining self-worth and leaves us overflowing with gratitude to share.

Shortly before the Savior was arrested and crucified, in his final mortal hours with His apostles, He shared some poignant moments with them and touched on this topic.  When I imagine the concluding scenes of that night, I imagine some confusion on their part as He talks to them about going somewhere they can’t follow.  He knows that they can’t possibly comprehend what’s about to occur and yet He tries to prepare them as best as He can.  I imagine sincerity and heaviness on His part, knowing what He’s about to undertake and knowing that it will be painful for them as well.  I see His eyes filled with compassion and perhaps a few tears as He approaches each man in turn, removes his dusty sandals and proceeds to wash the odorous, cracked, and worn feet.  I see Him being methodical and thorough and gentle.  I wonder if He conversed with them while He worked.  I wonder if they shared memories of the previous 3 years, speaking of moments they’d shared or the ways each man had changed.   As He continued His counsel, He asked them to love one another as He had loved them.   I think sometimes the first part of that quote from Him gets the most attention and we’re eager to counsel each other about loving others the way Christ would but we’re not as quick to understand how that love is there for each of us-ours for the taking.   Don’t misunderstand, I think the learning is bi-directional and by offering help to others, we learn charity, but it’s so much easier to do if you let yourself feel the love He has for you.  My goal in this space is to dive into that love in great detail because I think many of us don’t realize the how deep and refreshing those waters are.  Instead of binding us to a certain code of conduct, the experience of charity frees us because we finally have a conduit to heaven and our decisions can be made with more clarity and purpose.  So in an effort to soothe us all with a bit more of that love, imagine yourself in that room with the Savior that last night.  He was about to perform the greatest act of love that He could in the atonement but since my brain has yet to stretch far enough to fully comprehend that, I find Him just as, if not more loving in his more mortal actions because I can relate to them.  Imagine having watched Him perform miracle after miracle for person after unique person.  But more than the miracles, imagine having watched Him interact with the people.  Imagine Him looking intently into weary eyes or  stooping to talk and smile with a child.  Imagine Him weeping with a friend or offering a crust of bread to a beggar.  Imagine all those things from our kind and gracious Lord, and then think of the scripture, love one another as I have loved you.  We’re not talking about a directive as much as we’re talking about a feeling.  It’s as if He’s saying ‘Take this, take what I have given you, this knowledge of how to be loved and to love, internalize it and remember it, know that this is the most important thing you can share of me.  When I’m gone, this is how you will recognize My influence and this is how you will acquaint others with Me.”

Are you still with me?   Yeah, there you are, that’s you, moving a little closer to Him.  Let Him love you.