By Master isolated images, published on 23 May 2013

Today when I stepped out of bed my life “started over.” Actually, every breath I take marks a type of “starting over.” As some of you may have noticed I have spent quite a bit of time these past few weeks focusing on the wisdom found in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)’s 11th step that suggests employing a daily discipline of prayer and meditation. Through the years, I have, for the most part practiced “intellectual meditation” which is reading something and thinking about the meaning of what I have read and how to apply it to my life. Through the years I’ve “flirted” with the other kind of mediation which is “inner directed” and not as structured. It has always been a bit harder for me because I have trouble getting  my mind to quiet down.

This morning, as I was practicing “intellectual meditation” I found a quote that made me feel a bit better about not being efficient at the inner type of mediation:

“I heard some Buddhists years ago speak of ‘beginner’s mind.’ They said that the best way to approach  meditation was not to focus on how long or how still you could meditate, but just on the simple action of coming back from distraction to the still point again and again. If you could see yourself as always beginning, and never paid attention to how advanced you were, it would be so much more fruitful. This is wonderful, honest humility.”

Daniel Simons (2013) in Forward Day by Day, p. 45, May, June, and July.

I love this perspective, and I have learned to apply it in Centering Prayer. The “beginner’s mind” lets me return to the present moment over and over again to start over in my attempts to quiet my thoughts so I can listen to God. It is very empowering to realize it is my intent that matters rather than how effective I am at remaining still and listening without being distracted.

I am learning, too, that I can apply this “starting over again” mentality to almost every aspect of my life. It helps me stay in the moment rather than get caught up in past memories or worries about the future. Twelve step recovery suggests that we strive for achieving “progress rather than perfection.”  My emergent “starting over” perspective aligns easily with the goal of progress rather than perfection, and each day I am given the gift of making progress in my ability to enjoy my journey (present moment) rather than being so focused on my destination that I forget to appreciate living in the now.

Please comment and share your thoughts about this “starting over” idea. Thanks! May God bless and keep you.