Lent – Day 23 – Examination vs. Reflection

I had a dream last night that I was pleading with a group of politicians to look out for what was best for the country, not just their party. Although a lot of them seem to be older than me, they act like they are from the ‘Me’ generation. (I think I was before that…I think.)

Then I read this morning’s poem, Divided, and was amazed that it was about that very same thing. (And no, I had not read it the night before or the day before, if you’re wondering.)

I also realized, after reading the thought for the day, that there is a difference between examination and reflection. I considered this because I’ve been struggling with saying out of one side, ‘don’t judge where you are’ and then asking you to reflect on what is happening. How is that not judging? Well, to me, the difference is this: Examination is a head activity, where you are evaluating and inspecting what you’ve done and coming to a conclusion, a judgment. Reflection, however, comes from the heart. It is not judgmental; it is more a sensing of where you are, what you’ve experienced. Rather than analytical it’s experiential.

We’re taking action this week, maybe not all the time, but some of the time. We’re in the process of changing, which may include episodes of old behavior mixed with the new. As we become more immersed in the present moment, we become more aware, and reflect as we live, rather than in hindsight. It truly opens one’s eyes to life.

J

Lent – Day 12 – Sunday 2

Okay, I guess I missed Friday when some new windows were being installed. I went back and corrected the day number on yesterday’s post.

Last night I attended a Buddhist prayer meeting, I believe it was to honor someone’s passing, the father of a family, grandfather, and possibly great-grandfather. So we sat in back and prayed with them. The chants/prayers were in two different languages. I believe the first was Thai, although my wife said the monk had mentioned Bali. The second was Vietnamese. As I prayed and listened, it struck me how familiar the feeling was to one experienced when saying a rosary in a group. And how similar to an Indian dharma prayer meeting I had attended as well.

I thought of the commonality of humanity and wondered again why we spend so much time trying to differentiate ourselves and despise those unlike us, when at the core we are all the same: human beings.

This week wraps up the Awareness phase of the RADAR system, and we consider and reflect on how aware we have become to when our response is triggered. By now I would not be surprised if you can anticipate the opportunities for change before or as they are occurring. I’ve reached that awareness at times, and can sense a change in me even when I’m not purposefully doing anything different.

Do you feel a change in the level of peace in your life?

Lent – Day 11

Another Saturday, and now we are just about ready to close out a week of Awareness. It’s easy to make a change during this week, but without a plan of action, I think it would only be temporary. So I want to leave the Discovery phase for next week. Why? We still have today and tomorrow, and if you work the typical five weekdays, then the opportunities that arise on the weekend may be different. The situations will be different. We’ll take stock tomorrow of all the opportunities experienced this past week, filing them into different folders of situations and triggers, before we work on discovering our alternative action/response.

I don’t know why Christians or other religious have a problem with atheism. Other than never seeing any contributions from them, what’s the threat? And when you think about it, in the end we’ll all know who was right. And if they were, well, they won’t be able to tell you, “I told you so.”

And this Lenten reflections book is usable by anyone, believer or not? If you don’t believe, just skip the Scripture reading.

J

Lent – Day 9

Have you noticed? When your awareness of something improves, you begin to see, before you act or speak, the opportunity for change. I found several yesterday. That’s the key part of the awareness phase – anticipating the situation before it happens – where you now are fully in the present moment.

I remember times when I would say something and then think, “Why did I just do that?” I wasn’t aware before I spoke of the opportunity (to either keep my mouth shut or say something different). If you’re reading the book, it might seem confusing for me to say “Don’t look back,” and then just mention, “When I looked at yesterday.” The key is the purpose. I’m not looking back to judge where I was and compare to where I am. I’m only looking to evaluate the day for you.

And as you remain in the present moment, this looking back becomes only nostalgic (when it’s beyond the ‘just passed’ moment), because when you are aware ‘before it happens’, then you are evaluating in real time. You are examining the situation, your response, right then. To review at night, well, that’s nice, but it no longer becomes necessary.

That’s the beauty of the awareness phase. It helps bring you into the present moment. After all, that’s all we each have.

Lent – Day 6 – Awareness

We begin phase two of the RADAR process with Awareness. We now realize what it is we want to change, to shed, to replace, in order to reveal who we really are, and chose yesterday (if you started prior to that). If you’re just starting, do not fear, you can shorten the times in the previous phase and catch up easily.

In this phase we watch and observe how and when we use our targeted behavior. It’s natural to think, ‘If I can recognize when I’m doing it, why not just change immediately?’ I think the danger in this is that it’s too easy to slide back into previous patterns, and thus one quick victory is lost as time drags on and more opportunities are missed. I also think if you don’t become aware of the how and when, you won’t see the best why, and the why is what we are after. Why do we do this? Because then our strategy to replace or drop the behavior (though I think all behaviors, or at least most, must be replaced with something else – almost like a scientific equation: Behavior can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be replaced by another behavior) will become clear.

In other words, you are always doing something with your time, even if you’re doing nothing. (You’ll find upon deeper examination that you’re not really doing nothing. In this case, nothing, breathing, thinking, meditating, sleeping – is still something.)

May God guide you to become aware of each moment, and fill it with joy,

J