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In Theory: Dealing with the holiday hustle

December 02, 2010

The busiest weeks of the year are approaching, as people hustle and bustle to get ready for the holiday season. Then there is Lobsang Tenzin Negi, a former Buddhist monk who presides over a Buddhist monastery in Atlanta. He teaches a form of meditation that he says enhances certain skills like compassion, attention, love. It is called compassion meditation, a type of meditation that is at the heart of contemplative practice.

As we approach the holiday season, what tips can you offer such that we become more contemplative so that we don't run the risk of getting caught up in the rush? What personal methods of contemplative meditation, if any, do you use in your own life?

Beneath the hectic cycle of activities at this time of year is that increasing pace of modern times. Everything we do appears to demand more of us. Too easily we become trapped in a way of thinking that, if generally accepted, leads to more of the same.

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We do not need to accept this. Lobsang Tenzin Negi's compassion meditation is a lovely example of going beyond what is often mere motion.

There may be many instances when we need to make speedy efforts, but that does not mean we need to dwell in an endless cycle of impatient hurry. Even Christ Jesus found moments in his busy schedule to align his priorities, such as when "he went into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." On board a ship, he "rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased" (see Luke Chapters 6 and 8.) He did not accept the necessity of impatient turmoil.

In her book "No and Yes," Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, writes about how, when we "are liable to be borne on by the current of feeling, [we] should then turn temporarily from the tumult, for the silent cultivation of the true idea and the quiet practice of its virtues." That "true idea" can be thought of as the undoubting awareness of God's constant, guiding peace, which cannot be absent or negated.

Regardless of the pressures of the day, we can fulfill our duties with increased grace and a lessening of haste when we take moments to realize that the spiritual calm of our creator is present and active. It's our privilege to do this, to be aware continually of the divine presence that impels a progression of balance and poise in all that we do.

Graham Bothwell

Regional Assistant Committee on Publication

First Church of Christ, Scientist,

La Cañada Flintridge

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