Our mind is a bit one track when it comes to emotions. Give your mind anger, and it goes on and on about anger. Give it something to bless or love, and it does that instead. Point your mind in an emotional direction and that’s essentially it’s direction. This one track mind can work to your advantage as a channel-changer for difficult emotions. When I find I am being angry or judgmental, I begin blessing someone, something, anything. It doesn’t have to be the person I’m upset with. Heck no, not yet. But I can say a blessing for the earth, my neighbor’s dog, kids, someone driving by in a car, or anything else in that moment. And after about three minutes of blessing I don’t really have an interest in going back to the anger. Ditto if I’m in a car and someone in car in front of me does something that scares or angers me. Instead of going on and on about the person who cut me off, I send a blessing to someone in another car alongside of me, or behind me. This focusing on blessing another immediately stops the anger. It’s not that anger is bad, it’s simply that if given the choice of having anger or having kindness, I prefer the latter. And blessings can extend to neutral moments as well; the checkout clerk, sitting at a stoplight, waiting for an elevator. There are always people around you to bless no matter what is happening.
This is a story given to me by the late Father Theophane, a Trappist monk who wrote “Tales of the Magic Monastery.” This is an unpublished story in his genre of spiritual teaching reflections, and it relates to blessing:
She told me just to sit in the back and bless everyone. That’s what I did. It felt funny at first. Who was I to bless people? But I kept at it. Kept trying different ways. I assumed she’d give me more instructions about how to do it, but no, she never did. And I assumed she’d pass the job to someone else at some point, and give me some serious instructions in meditation. The others all seemed to know how to meditate—they’d sit there so still for hours. All I could do was bless them—one by one.
I found myself thinking about them—what’s on this one’s mind? What’s that one like? How is he meditating? Is she happy? Judging was there too. Don’t judge—just bless. But some don’t seem to need blessing. That’s judging.
It’s been so long now. Sometimes I wonder—does anyone know what I am doing? Does anyone appreciate me? Does anyone care? What would it be like to sit up front and do some serious meditating?