One of my resolutions for this year was to develop a daily contemplative prayer practice. It's not the first time I've attempted this, but it's the first time I've managed to stick with it for so long.
One of things that has always attracted me to it (and other forms of meditation) is that it seems like a practice in stillness—a stillness of both mind and body.
In practice, I've found that it is anything but stillness. Oh, my body is still. That much is true.
My mind, however, is in constant movement with my attention wandering off, me noticing that wandering, and me returning time and time again to my focus, my breath, my intention, my prayer.
It's less a practice of stillness (at least for me) than it is a practice of returning over and over and over and over again.
This is not a harsh or punitive thing. There's no judgment or condemnation in it. It's just a gentle noticing that my mind has wandered off and an equally gentle returning of my attention to my prayer practice.
The more I engage in this daily practice of returning my attention in contemplative prayer, the more I realize how this mirrors so much of life for me.
So much of my healing has been less about adding something new than about returning to the deeper self within me beneath life's wounds and brokenness to find again the wholeness that has never been shaken.
So many of the lessons I've learned over the years have actually been returning to old lessons and old wisdom at ever deeper levels to sink that knowing even deeper into my marrow.
So many of the breakthroughs I've had in life have actually come from returning again and again to what matters most to me by stripping away all the clutter that has gotten in the way.
So much of my growth has come from returning to what I know to be true about who I am in ever-deepening ways and returning again and again to living more fully into the true self.
Perhaps all of life is really a practice of returning.
Returning to knowing that I am loved, no matter what.
Returning to knowing that we are all connected and are all one.
Returning to the practice of forgiveness, even when it's hard and even when it's me I need to forgive.
Returning to letting go of the desperate need to control.
Returning to the practice of gratitude.
Returning to the beauty that surrounds me.
Returning to living out my gifts.
Returning to letting go of trying to be someone I am not.
Returning to nature that feeds my soul.
Returning to letting of worrying about what others think of me.
Returning to listening to my intuition and deeper knowing.
Returning to trust.
Returning to the Divine.
Returning to the present moment.
Returning to a focus on healing and growth.
Returning to the solitude that nurtures my soul.
Returning to fundamental self-care (like eating well, getting enough sleep, and moving my body) to keep myself well.
Always returning. Again and again and again and again.
As I'm engaging in the practice of contemplative prayer, it's amazing how often (and how continuously) my attention wanders off from where I am and what I am doing even when there are no outside distractions attempting to pull me away.
It's no wonder that in a world full of busyness, noise, and distractions of all kinds that I so easily get pulled away from these things that matter most to me.
During contemplative prayer, I know exactly what it is that I need to return to each time I notice that my attention has wandered. My breath, my focus phrase, and my intention for that small space of time anchor me by giving something clear to return to.
As I more consciously bring that practice of returning to what matters most into the rest of my life, I'm finding that it helps to become clearer and clearer about what matters for me to return to when I notice I've become distracted and have wandered off.
Where would you benefit from gently returning in some way to what matters most in your life?
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