I have been having a difficult time writing the “Mindful Monday” posts lately because I’m the opposite of mindful these days. You know how the Buddhist monks talk about the swinging monkeys of the brain, and how you need to tame them? Well, my monkeys have just spotted a jungle gym inside a McDonald’s and are having a grand old time. I don’t think they will be settling down anytime soon.
Alas. I will quote from a dude who has this mindful thing mastered: Howard Thurman, who died in 1981, and was a mystic, theologian, minister, and activist. His grandmother, who raised him with his mother, was a slave and was, for him, a great example of courage and faith. Anyway, here he is on the importance of rest and our fear of it.
We must find sources of strength and renewal for our own spirits, lest we perish. There is a widespread recognition of the need for refreshment of the mind and the heart. It is very much in order to make certain concrete suggestions in this regard. First, we must learn to be quiet, to settle down in one spot for a spell. Sometime during each day, everything should stop and the art of being still must be practiced. For some temperaments, it will not be easy because the entire nervous system and body have been geared over the years to activity, to overt and tense functions. Nevertheless, the art of being still must be practiced until development and habit are sure …
Such periods may be snatched from the greedy demands of ones day’s work. They may be islanded in a sea of other human beings; they may come only at the end of the day, or in the quiet hush of the early morning. We must, each one of us, find his own time and develop his own peculiar art of being quiet.
We must lose our fear of rest.
There are some of us who keep up our morale by being always busy. We have made a fetish of fevered action. We build up our own sense of security by trying to provide a relentless, advantageous contract between ourselves and others by the fevered, intense activities in which we are engaged. Actually, such people are afraid of quiet. Again, most activities become a substitute for the hard-won core of purpose and direction. The time will come when all activities are depressing and heavy, and the dreaded question, “What’s the use?” will have to be faced and dealt with. The first step in the discovery of sources of strength and renewal is to develop the art of being still, physical and mental cessation from churning. That is not all, but it is the point at which we begin.