Just getting started

I knew, going into counseling, that I would encounter stuff that I consider way out in left field. I knew I’d hit things recommending ancient practices for self-regulation and I knew I’d come against things that fly in the face of my faith in Jesus. It didn’t take too long before that started.

I’ve just about completed the first book recommended to me that is mostly a biography written by a journalist who was experiencing panic attacks. He set out looking for answers. Long story short, he found a way to be 10% happier through Buddhist meditation. I found it fascinating and I found numerous parallels with the teachings of Jesus as it relates to meditative prayer, peace, and rest. But, the ultimate goals of Buddhist meditation are vastly different than the goals of meditative prayer.

What do I mean? With a caveat that I am no Buddhist scholar and have only taken a few courses in comparative religions and have now read this book, it seems that the ultimate goal of Buddhist meditation is to meditate enough and do enough good deeds to be reincarnated as a higher life form until perfection is attained. There are numerous levels of consciousness to work toward and always motivation to work harder.

The ultimate goal of meditative prayer for the Christ follower is to build an intimate relationship with God that leaves one more Christ-like in attitude, word and deed. The reward of an eternity in heaven and new life is not based on achieving additional levels or working harder. The reward comes through faith in Christ alone and his redemptive work on the cross as a gift to sinful, imperfect people.

However, even with that being said, I found some of the methodology described for Buddhist meditation transferable to my own meditative prayer life so it wasn’t a total loss. For example Buddhist METTA includes steps to consider self (although not called self), then someone close, then someone neutral and then someone we don’t like, and lastly, everything in the universe. In my meditative prayer, after focusing my thoughts on God’s character and worship, I can pray recognizing my need for him to work in my life, then for my loved ones, then someone in my circle who I know of but do not know, and then my “enemy” and finally, thy kingdom come. I like that idea without buying into the cosmic energy and thought power stuff.

It was a worthwhile read but I won’t recommend it by title because it will cause way too much confusion to someone not firm in their faith. It did give me better understanding of a different religion and culture.

The counselor I am seeing has me journaling (here) and keeping a log of my emotions, thoughts and reactions. Also, I am supposed to be doing things I like that I have let get devoured by demands on my time and attention. Honestly, I am having trouble remembering what I used to like. I don’t know if that even makes sense but, whoomp, there it is. I think I like a lot of warm weather things but not many cold weather things. Robin and I have been setting aside time for us though and I like that.

Something from my log:

“Wednesday PM teaching, second guessing myself. I know Jesus was at Ceserea-Phillipi when he said this but am afraid to say it because I might be wrong. I know I am not wrong but doubt myself. 8/10 nerves. Tight breathing, headache, feel fuzzy headed like I am watching myself. I think I hid it well. No one knows. Took medication before bed to settle. 45 min later, was still wound up mentally and emotionally.”

That’s an example of some of my crossed wires, racing thoughts, self-doubt. I feel so stupid writing it, like I am crazy or something but I’ve promised to share honestly. Sharing from a place of weakness is hard. I don’t like it.

Now I am onto a book written by a PhD neuroscientist about brain research findings. This is much more my style. I like data. I like explanations that make sense. I don’t find science a threat to my faith at all. I am only a chapter in but much more hopeful that this one will help me make sense of why mind is so chaotic.

I am doing my best to be attentive to God working all around me. I’m thanking him and working on training my mind to “take every thought captive.” But, training those thoughts feels a lot like herding cats right now.

I know we’re just getting started.

About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.
This entry was posted in anxiety, counseling, depression, leadership, mental health, pastor and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Just getting started

  1. Terry Therrien says:

    ❤️. Thanks for your honesty. 🕊️

  2. Mary McGaw says:

    You have had enough courage to start this process and be very open about your situation. I pray you will have discernment to take what you can use and leave the rest. I know you will lean on our Lord to help you do that. I believe some of the confusion you are having is from the evil one and the strength to overcome will continue to come from Jesus.

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