by Rachel Inglis
Posted 1st May 2016
I meet all sorts of people when walking the dog that I don’t normally meet. Well, that’s mostly because I’m now up and out much earlier than I used to be during Life Before Dog.
Recently I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen for a while. After she’d admired my new puppy, she said she had to get on as she would be ‘late for meditation’. I was intrigued. She’d told me a long time ago that she wasn’t a person of faith and so definitely not interested in church. Yet she was going to meditation. Meditation has been practised by people of faith for centuries – not only by Buddhists, but by the Desert Mothers and Fathers back in the 2nd Century, as well as contemporary Christians including modern-day hermits and solitaries.
I had been approached recently by a staff member of a college campus nearby to ask if I would offer sessions on Mindfulness to students. The main reason was to help with their stress levels as exams approached, but I suggested that the practice might actually help with their ongoing life. Ordinarily my practice – retreats, quiet days, one-to-one spiritual direction – attracts people in the second half of life and those approaching retirement. So I’m delighted, if a bit nervous, to be connecting with young people under 30.
I’m not an expert on Mindfulness, however, I have been practising a Christian form of it for almost 15 years, ever since I first encountered Ignatian Spirituality. It’s what I would call a ‘prayer of stillness’. It is about becoming aware of our body, our breathing and our senses, all of which help us to stay in the present moment.
Whilst many people will practice meditation and mindfulness as a practical aid, for many it can be the start of connecting with a sense of Otherness, Mystery, Ground of Being – which I would call God. As an Ignatian, I believe that God can be (and is!) found in all things. I also believe that God is a God of infinite patience, and walks alongside us at our pace.
So I’m delighted that my local acquaintance - who wouldn’t walk into a church - is going to meditation. Who knows where this will lead her?