Practicing the Presence

In my last post, I wrote about reading with God. By which I mean bringing mindfulness to the act of reading, so I am in a safe and sacred place, rather than my default restlessness and in attention.

Serendipity again! The book I am reading tips me off as to the mechanics. Kevin Ashton explains that the world we assume is “real”, in fact depends on what our brain detects and how we understand it.

We think we perceive everything but, in fact, we only “see” a minute portion of what our eyes take in. En route to the basal nuclei, the part of the brain that makes sense of what you see, the info from the visual cortex is compressed 3,000 times. What has not been discarded as irrelevant is what your brain decides is “real” – and it is that on which you act. Your point of view.

And your preset point of view sets the mood for what you then assume is reality. David Foster Wallis explains it well: imagine hurrying through a supermarket. You are late, stressed after work and everyone seems in your way. You find them inconsiderate and rude. You find this “deeply and personally unfair.” He goes on to admit, “This is my natural, default setting.”

That's when the light bulb goes off in my head. When I “read with God”, I step out of my ego's default setting of preoccupation, judgment and defence. This enables me to see differently, kindly. Just what Wallis describes: “…it will actually be within your power to experience a crowded consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred.”

Of course Wallis' default state was defensive. It makes sense. After all, which state is safer for survival: suspicion or carefree trust. So “reading with God” allows me to see with rose-tinted rather than suspicious eyes.

But that isn't the whole story. Serendipity again: an article from Psychology Today posted on Facebook today defined loneliness. Psychologist Kira Asatryan, a confessed introvert, explains how she feels exhausted and lonely in a crowd. She wants closeness, not idle chatter; understanding, not frenetic fun.

Of course! She makes such sense. “Reading with God” gives that feeling of closeness, tucked in rather than a howling draught. No wonder I feel safe and cocooned – and reading an almost sacred act.

It's not only reading, we can do anything “with God.” In fact, it is living with loving mindfulness, what beloved Brother Lawrence called “practicing the presence of God.”

More info:

How to Fly a Horse: the Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery by Kevin Ashton.

David Foster Wallis: link

Kira Asatryan: Loneliness has an Antidote and You'll Never Guess What it is. Link

Practicing the Presence – link



About UntraveledRoads

Fascinated by life, looking for answers to chronic pain and finding unexpected gifts. Interested in people, ideas, healing and humour. I am very happily married with three children and a kitten. As English born immigrants to Canada, we have family spread overseas, a daughter in South Africa and one in England. We also run a charity in South Africa to educate black, rural South African Women. Our first girl from a rural township has just graduated as an accountant from Johannesburg University and got a good job in a bank.
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