Can't take it anymore? Time to be still.
The Coronavirus has disrupted every aspect of our lives. Right now many of us are under a “Stay at Home” directive. It hasn’t helped that where I live it’s been raining almost every day. Other than a needed run to the grocer or walks around the block, we are staying inside. Whether you call it “cabin fever” or “going stir crazy”, it can stress a person out. Our minds become distracted, our blood pressure goes up, and our tempers flare. So, Spiritual Improvisers, how can we handle this?
You might think improv is just about being quick witted and fast on your feet. Although it can be, two important rules of improv are about slowing down and paying attention. Those rules are; focus on the intent, and stay connected. Without our routine and relationship connections, it is easy hard to stay focused and connected. Not only with each other, but within ourselves as well. So here is a plan to keep ourselves focused and connected; be still. Yep, be still, keep quiet, take a break. This “time out” is what Christianity calls Contemplative Practice, or what Buddhists call meditation or mindfulness. It’s about detaching from the pressures of your surroundings.
It is not only spiritual, but it’s healthy as well. In their book, Brain Wash, David and Austin Perlmutter show that studies reveal that only 12 minutes of meditation a day reduces stress, helps with your memory, reduces inflammation in the body, reduces your blood pressure, improves creativity, improves cardiovascular health, leads to a better immune system, and reduces anxiety. Certainly less anxiety in this day and age is a good thing. They also report that twelve minutes of silence actually promotes the growth of new brain cells. Just by taking 12 minutes a day in silent prayer and or meditation, you can be smarter, healthier, and happier. All that and it doesn’t require taking prescription drugs, a co-pay, or weight gain.
Normally Lent is a time in which we give up something in order to draw near to God. The usual things we give up are desserts, pop, alcohol, or TV. This year we’ve given up going out, attending worship, going to work. Basically we’ve given up having a normal life. Has it drawn you to closer to God? Or has it made you more anxious and worried? Have you spent your entire time binge watching TV and baking? (Yes I’ve done both of those things.) Or have you taken the time to be still, be quiet, and listen to God. The quarantine will be with a little while longer. Lent is still here. You have time. Learn to improvise. Keep your focus and your connection. Those are the keys.