Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Calming the Mind (CALM)

Poster from the United Kingdom reading "K...

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Equally if not more important to calming the body in the heat of anger would be calming the mind.  It is the mind that invents all manner of evils (and goods) to hoist upon those that we are most passionate about (good or bad).  Without calmness of the mind one risks acting out rashly, harshly, with vengeance even when it is done with premeditation.  This is not a direction we want to go.  Thoughtful? Yes! Intentional? Yes!  Hurtful? No!  Destructive? Definitely not!  When cooler heads prevail you will nearly always regret the latter two, but you can nearly always celebrate the first two. 

How do we move to be more calm of mind?  I think there are several concepts that need to be explored in having a "CALM MIND":  Contentment, Acceptance, Loving, Mindfulness, Meditation, Improve, Nurture, Diversion.


I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.
Philippians 4:12 (HCSB)

This is quite a statement.  First, I tells me that contentment is a learned way of being.  If you learn something know how to do it not the same as doing it nor doing it well.  These things take intentional practice to do them well.  Contentment falls into that category.  Contentment is the quietness of soul that comes over a person when all is well.  Yet Paul is writing the Philippians here that he has learned contentment  in "any and all circumstances."  So the second thing I learn is that true contentment is not tied to external circumstances.  He takes it further and says, "whether well fed or hungry."  True contentment is not tied to getting some need met.  This is quite extraordinary.  If you ask someone what is contentment they will always point to some peaceful external circumstance or getting some need satisfied.  Yet Paul is saying plainly that there a contentment that is greater than these.  How does he do that?  Four things that he does:  he trusts in his relationship with Christ (Philippians 4:13); he prays (Philippians 4:6-7); he is thankful (Philippians 4:4, 10); and he meditates on the good things in life (Philippians 4:8).  Now each of these may be difficult to do in the moment that you are angry, but remember this is a discipline that you want to learn well.  More on Contentment here: Christian Mindfulness (Contentment)


Acceptance is the act of receiving something.  Often we do not like things or we believe they are unjust or unfair or are not what we want.  Accepting something you do not want is like drinking vinegar.  Non-acceptance is the rejection of something.  Now if that something is a circumstance then acceptance means that you receive the circumstance as it is.  Not that you judge it to be good, but that you acknowledge it is what it is.  You stop fighting against reality and come into contact with it as it is.  If the something is a person, then you accept them as they are, the good and the bad.  Not that you desire that they stay that way or that the nature of your relationship has to stay the same, but you accept them as a human being with shortcomings even as you are a human being with shortcomings. 

As a Christian my acceptance is rooted in my acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Lord (in charge of) and Savior (rescuing me from my shortcomings) of my life.  My acceptance of my circumstances and of others is rooted in this truth.  That God accepts me through the relationship that I have with His Son Jesus Christ.  God's acceptance of me and my acceptance of Him becomes the foundation of my acceptance of people and events in my life.  I also note the the reverse is true.  There are times when my acceptance of God is diminished.  At those time my acceptance of circumstances and people also diminishes. 

I often share this analogy when it comes to acceptance:

Imagine that you go home and your bedroom has been painted your least favorite color.  You are shocked and disgusted by the color so you close your eyes and pretend like it is not painted that color.  Your quickly find your way to the door and refuse to reenter the room until it is dark.  Not turning on the lights you get ready for bed and go to bed.  The next morning you wake up and open your eyes to discover much to your dismay that the room is still that ugly color.  You again close your eyes and find your way to the door and leave.  You again refuse to go into the room until it is dark to avoid seeing that ghastly color.  You do this a second night, a third night, a week, two weeks, a month, two months.  Let me ask you, "What color is the room?"  For all that effort and energy over the last couple of months the room color has not changed and you are most likely more miserable than when you started.  This is non-acceptance.  It is only through acceptance that you can actually do something about the color of the room.

Not accepting something does not change it.  Accepting something gives the possibility of change.   One of the hardest things to accept is that there are some things that are beyond your ability to control.  I have this diagram to help understand what I have control over, what I have influence over, and what I have neither control or influence over.  Trying to control something that you do not have control over is frustrations.  Accepting things you have no control over, accepting that some situations at best you have influence over and focusing your energy on things you have control over is effectiveness.Control influence


Passionate anger as a force meets it's match with passionate love.  Loving in the midst of anger seems to be foreign to most if not all of us.  I have previously posted on Agape Love here: The Greatest of these is Love, 1 Corinthians 13: What is Love?, Love: Going Deeper in the Word.  Let me say this where love abounds you cannot go wrong.  Where anger abounds you cannot avoid going wrong. 


I personally advocate Christian mindfulness.  Christian Mindfulness at its core is contemplative awareness by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:15).  Contemplation is an act of the will which requires that we be fully engaged in the present moment and dependent on God's Holy Spirit.  Contemplation is where what we know meets what we experience.  It is the process of wisdom.

Beginning with awareness of your signals and triggers you move into greater awareness of the circumstance (awareness of environment or of the moment), Person or people that are involved (awareness of relationships), and prayerfully aware of what God is doing to work through this circumstance (spiritual awareness).   When we are able to enter into the "peace of God" we achieve Christian Mindfulness.  

Mindfulness not only involves greater awareness, but also increased potential to act effectively.  When it comes to anger it will allow you set aside selfish desires and see the most beneficial and effective course of action. More on this here: Awareness of Self (Effectiveness)

Well I have covered the CALM part of CALM MIND.  I hope that I can get back to the second half soon.  I am not sure as it will be busy the next couple of days and I want to thoughtfully and mindfully describe Meditation, Improve, Nurture, Diversion.  My hope is that these posts are helpful in dealing with anger.  I will be putting up a Table of Contents as soon as I have worked through this series.  Please be in prayer for me as I consider writing a book.  I am sensing that this is the direction to go for me, but I still have reservations (Grammar being one of them).  My hope is to present something that helps me to fulfill the mission:

To live and challenge others to live excellent, fulfilling, and authentic lives.

I hope that is what this blog is doing for you as well.  Thank you for your prayers and readership.  You all are a blessing to me!


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