Keeping Calm in the Midst of Chaos: Learning Mindfulness

Mother Nature’s been very generous in giving us rain water lately. This has made some people happy, especially those who garden, but this has also made others incommoded. It’s not easy to drag your butt out of the house and go to work early on a rainy Monday morning, you know.

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Sunny or rainy, there are simply people whose disposition is not dependent on the season. It’s summer wherever they go and no amount of raincloud can obscure that light upon their heads. They’re the ones who don’t mind carrying old fashioned fans when it’s hot, and wearing rain boots and carrying umbrellas when it rains. These are the people who deliberately choose to be happy no matter what the outside circumstances are and the ones I like to surround myself with. Their sunny disposition is simply contagious!

But I guess my sunny disposition wasn’t sunny enough to ward off cough and colds these past few days; I caught the virus. I had to remain indoors to keep myself warm while under medication. Nonetheless, I fought to stay positive while being mindful of my needs. I had to feed my body with nutritious food and lots of fluids, and my mind with only positive and uplifting thoughts.

When at home, however, I just can’t help but hear what’s on TV as my dad can’t last a day without a dish of news in the morning and in the afternoon. This is how I learned about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States.

Fourteen years ago, when I was a young “hippie girl” in college, this news would have sounded like music to my ears. Three years ago, when I was an embittered, puritanical working mom living in the middle of nowhere without much friends to share ideas with, this news would have infuriated me. Today, since I chose to commit to the practice of mindfulness, I had to pause in front of the TV to observe myself and save my reactions for later.

It was kind of fun observing myself as if there was another me watching me as I was watching TV that morning. That other me, like any other normal human person, had several thoughts going on inside her head concerning the news she’d heard and I saw her feel several different emotions. This, for me, is the beauty of practicing mindfulness – you get to give yourself some room in feeling, recognizing and accepting your emotions without necessarily letting them affect you in any way.

I could have chosen to dismiss that thought right away and pretend I didn’t care, but it lingered all day; who am I to fight it? I had to sleep next to it that night, until I came across a very interesting line in my daily Bible reading early the next day. It was what Jesus said to His disciples when their boat was struck by giant waves and they thought they would perish, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then He got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm (Matthew 8:26). Then I realized that instead of joy or anger, the most predominant emotion I had that morning in front of the TV was fear and this is why these particular words of Jesus’ struck me most.

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I’m only new in the practice of mindfulness and I have a very long way to go, but as early as today I am already beginning to see the beauty of holding my thoughts and not judging anything or anyone, not even myself. The fear I felt must have come from my recent decision to follow a certain path and I respect myself for that. From here, I get to respect my friends and family members who must have felt scandalized by this decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. I also get to respect my friends who are rejoicing about this big news. Heck, I have lots of them and I love them all. I can do all this respecting and loving and accepting without forsaking my faith or compromising my conviction because at the end of the day, what matters most is my relationship with my Maker. Similarly, I don’t have the right to judge the relationship my friends (or my husband, or my parents) have with the God of their understanding; it’s solely between Him and them. All I can do is to remain in my faith and spread God’s love to fellow pilgrims while we’re on this earth.

The new me has become more sensitive to issues concerning humanity but as if by reflex, my new neural pathways lead me to deliberately choose turning to my faith. People change and seasons change, but despite the cough and colds and the heavy rains, it’s now easier for me to choose to feel healthy and receive healing and comfort from the God whose words will never change.

“If his sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.”  – Psalms 89:30-34

The emotions we feel – fear, joy, anger, outrage – towards circumstances outside of us is not because of what others say or do. It is, I recently learned, because of how we think and feel deep inside us; it is because of our relationship with ourselves, and our relationship with God. I use the fear, the joy, the anger and the chaos instead to help me to get to know myself and take a better look at the relationship I have with my Maker.

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