Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Practicing Mindfulness

This past Christmas I received a new Fitbit.  It is very nice and quite an upgrade from the original, very basic Fitbit I have been wearing for years.  It tells me the time, date, day of the week, the number of steps I have walked and my current heartbeat.  It has other features that I haven't fully utilized.  One of the features that I really like is the ability to set multiple alarms to alert me throughout the day.  I must assume these alarms are designed to encourage my physical activity, especially during times I am inactive.  I decided to use the alarms for a different reason.  I decided I would use the alarms as reminders to be spiritually active and mindful.  I have a meditation app that is great for timing meditation periods and another app with a random Zen gong to call me to mindfulness thoroughly out the day.  The meditation app is great for regular meditation sitting but the random Zen gong will often chime at inappropriate times and catch me off guard.  It would also sometimes startle other people who might be around me.

Monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani and other monasteries gather seven times a day to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.  This is what some people refer to as monastic chant.  As the title indicates these are hours throughout the day when the monks gather for prayer.  I decided to set the alarms on my Fitbit to correspond with the monastic Liturgy of the Hours.  Here is the schedule followed at the Abbey of Gethsemani.

Vigils 3:15 AM
Lauds 5:45 AM
Tierce 7:30 AM
Sext 12:15 PM
None 2:15 PM
Vespers 5:30 PM
Compline 7:30 PM

Every day at these times my Fitbit quietly vibrates and calls me to be mindful.  I usually say a short prayer that is used by the monks when they begin their prayers...

"O God, come to my assistance!  O Lord, make haste to help me"!

My thoughts and ideas about God are very different now from the simple faith I had as a child.  Even the existence of God is a question and mystery for me.  In spite of any doubts I have, I still pray.  At this point I am not sure it even matters whether anyone is listening or hearing my prayers.  If my prayers are just words thrown into the universe, that is enough.  It is a comfort for me to voice the concerns and longings of my heart.  In the middle of the night, assuming I am awake or awakened by the 3:15 AM vibration, I often pray for my wife and me.  We are getting old so I simply ask God to take care of us in our old age.

Overall this system has been working well for me.  Most of the time the scheduled vibrations alert me and get my attention.  Depending on the time of day and what activity I may or may not be doing, I will pause and be mindful of the moment.  Sometimes in life it is a good thing to just stop what you are doing for a moment and breathe.