Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Quiet Mindfulness (Spiritual Ritalin)

Spiritual Ritalin Long long before the rise in popularity of eastern mindfulness in the west, western religious teaching put forth contemplation as a mode of peaceful interaction with the world, people, and God.  In this tradition quietness and peacefulness were major objectives of prayer, meditation, activity, and worship.  Somewhere along the line this contemplative spirit was diminished or perhaps men of old just wrote about it and few (just like today) ever practiced it.  I suspect the mindlessness of busyness is one of the major reasons we do not Practice the Presence of God now.  This activity has driven the church to distraction from the purpose that God has given her.   In this post I hope to point out the need for contemplative awareness. 

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  Psalms 46:10 (KJV)

Why is it that I have such a hard time being still.  I  have quipped a few times that if I was in school today that I would be a candidate for stimulant medication to treat may ADHD.  I have not been diagnosed, but I have to admit the signs are there. 

The core qualities of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.  This is not a slam on people with ADHD, but I cannot help but recognize that ADHD is a serious barrier to mindfulness.  Interestingly mindfulness strategies have been helpful in my practice of counseling, my life, and my spiritual development.

I think the Church has Spiritual ADHD.  Let me demonstrate by going through my diagnostic criterion for "Spiritual ADHD."

Inattention

(a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
(b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in ministry
(c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
(d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish the work it is called to
(e) often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
(f) often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
(g) often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g., Bible, Prayer, Holy Spirit, discipleship, or evangelism)
(h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli (mind set on the world) 
(i) is often forgetful in daily activities (prayer, Bible reading, quiet time)

Well I started this out a little tongue and cheek, but it seems uncanny how much of this applies.  Let see what Hyperactivity turns up.

Hyperactivity

(a) often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat (especially if feeling convicted)
(b) often leaves the vine in situations in which remaining in the His word is expected
(c) often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate (in adolescents or adults, may be limited to subjective feelings of restlessness; really I am not poking fun of Charismatic's here ;-)
(d) often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly
(e) is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor"  (though we are not sure where they are going)
(f) often talks excessively

Yikes I still have one more category.  I starting to feel a little squirmy myself!

Impulsivity

(g) often blurts out answers before questions have been completed (or understood)
(h) often has difficulty awaiting turn
(i) often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or other's lives when not welcomed)

Wow  I am convinced that the Church has full on ADHD.  Especially when you consider that you only need 6 of the above persisting for 6 months.  I think I could easily make the case for all 18.  God I need some Spiritual Ritalin. 

Seriously though the Church is broke.  There is no way around it.  We need to get back (if we were ever there) to the quietness of God.  "Be still and know that I am God!"  This stillness holds the key to overcoming our tendency to be distracted by the things of this life.  Quietness holds the key to our tendency to act without thought or purpose.  Knowing that He is God will guard us from impulsively saying and doing things that bring shame to the cause of Christ. 

More on quietness tomorrow.