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More of my notes and reflection on the Prayer portion of this week’s lesson: meditation and the sign of the cross

Thoughts on meditation. I have taken a few yoga classes, but have never been able to still my mind and meditate. The yoga was helpful in many other ways, and I want to continue with it. Still, during Savasana (corpse pose) when I ought to be meditating I find myself thinking about what I will be doing after class or what to cook for dinner, so I know I’m not getting the full effects. Watching the monks create the mandala I come a little bit closer to clearing my mind. At least 99% of what I am thinking about is what they are doing, but I’m still keeping track of time so I can return to my office. I would like to have no time issues so that I could attempt to try to meditate and maybe help them in their creation of the mandala on a spiritual plane. A while ago I wrote a poem about not being able to be still. Maybe I’ll even share it. I really do struggle with finding a place of stillness, so this is something I need to work on. Anyway, this week’s Catholic Update dedicated a page and a half to meditation. Their advice was exactly the same as what I have gotten in the past from yoga classes and non-Christian medication guides except the suggested mantras were Biblical verses or a name for God. The Update actually refers to other traditions (including mandalas) in their description of the process, which was cool. The only other difference I saw was the goal of resting peacefully in God. Actually, if you broaden your definition of God, that may be the same goal for most of the other traditions, too, so I guess I just have to start taking all the advice I’ve been given in this area over the years and trying to apply it better.

Thoughts on the sign of the cross. Our leader said it can ward away temptation and evil because Satan and evil spirits don't like it. I can totally see it warding away temptation. If you feel tempted, do the sign, it is a visceral reminder to think about what you are doing, and maybe you'll stop. I like the warding off evil. I also think about the Mummy and that guy who carried around a cross, a Star of David, and ankh, etc. That makes me giggle. Anyway, for me, that sign is extremely Catholic. I have watched friends do that for years, but never had the courage to do it myself. I felt like I was intruding into their religion, and that somehow as a non-Catholic I was not allowed to cross myself. Also, I had never been taught how to do it properly. They do it so darned fast I could not trust myself to figure out the order. (Forehead, breastbone, LEFT side, RIGHT side. While the way you hold your fingers can mean something, you don’t have to do that any special way.) I could have looked that up or asked, but as I was afraid to do it, it never stayed in my head. I still feel really, really, really weird doing it, but I am trying to get used to it. The action itself is a form of prayer, so if you need to say a quick prayer but don’t have the time to formalize words you can just make the sign of the cross. Toaster does it all the time when she sees a car on the side of the road or sees an ambulance go by. Actually, a year or so ago I started doing that, too, because I love that idea. When I am alone in the car no one is around to see me do it in the wrong order if I mess up or to think “hey, why’s that non-Catholic doing that?”, so I feel more comfortable. I guess the sign of the cross is also a bit like an Amen. They open and close prayers with it. I can see how it could get your head in the right space. In college success I encourage my students to pick a desk and chair (or table and chair) and designate it as the homework chair. If it is the dining room table, it cannot be the seat you normally sit in to eat. If it has to be the couch, do not use the spot where you watch tv or read for fun. If nothing else is done in that seat but study, you can train your mind to recognize this is my study space, and it can help you focus faster and more continuously. Maybe the sign of the cross does that same thing, telling your mind this is my prayer time. Also, possibly on an immature level, I think it looks really cool. :)

I still have to organize my thoughts on one-on-one prayer and the Lectionery, but once finished that will be this week.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 24th, 2008 10:31 am (UTC)
I've been enjoying reading your catechism journey. I'm Episcopalian, came there while I was in college, and so much of what you say is familiar! Your struggles with crossing yourself was sooo true.

Thanks for sharing, even if I seldom comment.
Oct. 24th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
I have much trouble learning to be still too. Monkey mind is strong in me.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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