The Contemplative Corrective
At the still point of the turning world, there the dance is. And there is only the dance. T.S. Eliot
We are in a time when things around us are going off the rails, speeding up, and changing faster than we can track. Technology, climate and environmental change, institutional breakdowns, the global economy, the way we work and relate, how we bank, get around, get entertained, AND the Twins have on of the best records in baseball. Really?!
So, we feel overwhelmed. The trouble is, overwhelm is catchy. It’s a virus, of sorts. You can be having a perfectly nice day, and your neighbor spews out the virus: “have you heard the latest about (fill in the blank)! Suddenly, your nice day does a 180 and you catch a good dose of anxiety.
The outer demands and dynamics are exceeding our inner resources.
The overwhelm virus has reached epidemic proportions because the outer demands and dynamics are exceeding our inner resources. By inner resources I mean beliefs, thoughts, and actions that ground and stabilize us. These resources stem from a deep inner knowing that leads to outer perspective. They enable us to corral the spinning chaos and place it a wider and wiser frame.
I equate this inner resourcefulness with a contemplative way of being that emerges out of spiritual trust and practice. The challenge is that contemplation is a lot like Goldilocks: The conditions have to be just right for it arise. If it’s too hot (i.e., too much anxiety or speed), its quieter ways get drowned out. If it’s too cold (i.e., not enough attention or intention), contemplation doesn’t get activated.
But the challenge is surmountable! If the Twins can defy all logic with their bats and brains, there’s hope for you and me in this crazy world. And while I’m quite sure that contemplative capacities are no longer optional in our warp-speed world, I’m also quite sure that you and I can access and nurture the contemplative corrective.
So seek out what soothes you: a walk, a prayer, a poem, a hug. Express appreciation to your loved one, meditate, savor a sacred verse, sing a hymn. Listen to music, hold your pet. Each of these small steps can be a leap into a different world that renews you.