When I slow down -- thoughts, actions, reactions -- I am much more aware of how I am choosing. That's one of the spiritual gifts of chronic pain: it slows me so much that I can feel how a negative thought ("I just can't take another migraine this week.") affects the pain; how a positive thought ("I can decide to go through this with dignity.") shifts it.
So in today's reflection by Diane Mariechild in Open Heart -- Women's Daily Inspirations for Becoming Mindful, it is pain that I think of when I have been made to slow down. Migraine pain, of course, but also the pain of a fractured relationship, a mis-spoken or cruel word. I think that what Mariechild and St Teresa of Avila are saying is that when the pain of the obstacles and mistakes in our lives slows us down, we have an opportunity to reflect, decide to change and grow.
That process is complicated and made slower by shame, about which I have posted before, here.
But if we can derail the shame and get to the healing, we have Mariechild's reflection to guide us. I happen to enjoy outlines and lists, so have broken down her lovely meditation into a far more pedantic form:
1. Realize we can use the obstacles (mistake, sin) in our lives as opportunities to embody love.
2. Become aware of our thoughts; create a practice of looking deeply and honestly (I would add here, without shame and judgment) into our actions.
3. Make a choice to become more loving.
It takes practice, life-long practice toward an unreachable goal. But we can progress along the path to a purely loving heart and each step we take is immensely important to ourselves and to this world.
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