The thing is, I’m continually searching for the sweet spot to live my life, the still point, the center. It’s my assumption that I’m only one practice, one habit, or one spreadsheet away from blissful yet productive existence. That’s one of the reasons I read so much, or at least, how I pick many of my books. I’m looking for ideas to find that intersection between stillness and adventure.
One of my favorite writers, Natalie Goldberg, described how she handles life’s burdens and the numbness that comes from constant disappointment, in her book, The True Secret of Writing,
She adopted a personal mantra that she repeats to herself; she calls it her “Loving Kindness Practice”.
May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I be free
May I have the ease of well-being
May I be safe
May I be healthy
Goldberg believes that her own inner peace expands out to everyone and everything else when she repeats those phrases to herself. I’m sure she’s correct.
She also wrote about the process of letting go ... as in, what are the elements she has to let of in order to live happy, peaceful, free, and healthy. “What do I carry with me all the time? What should I carry with me from now on? What should I leave behind?”
Like a backpacker, we can only carry so much. It’s true that the more gear (or attitude) we carry, the better we protect ourselves from upsets, surprises, and accidents, but if our load gets too heavy it will break our back and destroy our will to continue down the trail.
Goldberg understood that it wasn’t enough to simply repeat a mantra over and over. She had to let go to make her Loving Kindness Practice really work.
I thought her Practice seemed like a cool way to avoid the trap of disappointment and live in more among good qualities. However, since she’s a practicing Buddhist, her suggestions come from that particular perspective. I wondered if I could adopt a similar practice based on a Biblical perspective. Even though the actual end result might be the same, and the specific practices not that different, it made a different to my own heart if I knew the source.
Which lead me to Galatians 5:22-23: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Could I use this list to ground myself in God’s qualities in such a way they would expand out to everyone else around me?
So I am proposing the following practice based on the Fruits of the Spirit, and I’m asking you for suggestions to make it even better. What if we all repeat at least one of these phrases to ourselves every day, all day … would it change how we live? Would it change the people around us?
May I be accepting; let go of judging
May I be generous; let go of cynicism
May I be mindful; let go of my need for respect
May I linger; let go of quick success
May I be kind; let go of condemnation
May I give slack; let go of expectation
May I be loyal; let go of grudges
May I be gentle; let go of being right
May I be intentional; let go of careless living
So far, this list seems a little clunky to be sustainable, but it’s a good start to a brighter and more contagious life. Why don’t you join me by selecting one phrase every day and repeat it to yourself whenever life’s disappointments hit. Who knows what may happen.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32