Brain-Mind and Holy Indifference

An article by on February 24, 2018

I began this podcast with a 10-day mindfulness challenge. I thought the start of Lent a fitting time to return to it. I encourage you consider using these 10 episodes to begin or renew a habit of mindfulness practice for your Lenten season intention.

You might think that a podcast about mindfulness might begin with the mind. But I have found that the difficulty with being mindful is that I am so easily mindless throughout my day. Which is why the first episodes focused on noticing, attending our senses so that when automatic routines are paused for some reason, automatic reactions can be attended with grace. Because if I am on autopilot, any interruption is an opportunity to react – and, for me, it is usually with irritation. Our brains are made to accommodate new information and stimuli by allowing our bodies to do many things automatically. Our brains would literally overheat if we had to think about everything our bodies do.

At the same time, our current high-tech, over-connected existence blasts exceedingly full data bursts, the bulk of which is useless. So, intentionally separating from the sources of these data catapults is crucial to brain health – and the resultant body/soul health. When my mind is uncluttered, unrushed, un-attached . . . an interruption no longer registers as such, as an interruption.

In his First Principle and Foundation, Ignatius of Loyola talks about “making use of those things that help to bring us closer to God and leaving aside those things that don’t.” Fro Ignatius, this Holy Indifference is foundational to peace and right relationship with God and others.

Thomas Keating describes Holy Indifference this way: “Without thinking or feeling some emotion, there is just awareness. There is then no desire for bliss, enlightenment, or to teach others. Things are just as they are. In that so-called emptiness, enjoyment arises of itself. As soon as we try to enjoy, the enjoyment eases. Somehow at the bottom of emptiness (openness, pure awareness), there is enjoyment, fullness, presence and peace.”[1]

Holy indifference is an invitation to hold loosely a matter or item or opinion. So, think with me about a recent issue that is occupying your thoughts these days. Imagine how it affects your attitude toward that subject or about a person | imagine it as a physical object, placed in the palm of your hand. Hold it there. Wrap your fingers around it securely, keep it safe and secure. Next, imagine someone with a different view trying to pull a finger away, and the next finger, etc. but you hold on tighter, more firmly and the possibility for scratches or broken bone increases.

Imagine again that you hold this object in the palm of your extended hand, with your fingers loosely relaxed, open. Someone with a different view holds his hand in the same way. With both held loosely you both gently take each other’s object and create a larger one – one that you both can carry. You have not lost a part of you, the other hasn’t lost a part of him. Rather, you both have contributed to a larger view, a fuller perspective, an effective, healing potential.

 

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9 [MSG])

 

As you listen to the rest of this version of Leonard Cohen’s “Come Healing,” consider again a matter, an issue, or person that is occupying your thoughts. Perhaps you need to spend more time with the one you thought of earlier, or something else comes to mind. As you breathe. In. Out. Breathe. Hold the issue in your hand, make a fist. First, gently relax your thumb. Notice it slacken. Pay attention to how the other fingers cannot hold on quite as tightly. Loosen the forefinger. The remaining three loosening their grip still further. Slowly allow the rest to open out. See the issue for what it is. Take note of how you feel toward it. Turn it so your perspective is from another vantage. Acknowledge the impact it has had on you. Acknowledge that it does not define who you are. See it as part of your formation – as you are in the presence of God – this More Than who is in this situation with you – now. And leave it here in God’s presence.

This does not mean you won’t have to face it again. You likely will. And it will be another opportunity to practice Holy Indifference.

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9 [MSG])

 

As always, resources used in these episodes, along with the transcript can be found on my website: eirenicole.com And if this podcast has been helpful to you, please click a short review and share it with someone else you think might benefit. I am grateful to you for participating with me in mindfulness aimed at peace and reconciliation.

And today, may you walk at the pace of grace.

 

Come Healing

Leonard Cohen

Guitar and vocals: Howie Snyder

O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now
The fragrance of those promises
You never dared to vow

The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind

O see the darkness yielding
That tore the light apart
Come healing of the reason
Come healing of the heart

O troubled dust concealing
An undivided love
The Heart beneath is teaching
To the broken Heart above

O let the heavens falter
And let the earth proclaim:
Come healing of the Altar
Come healing of the Name

O longing of the branches
To lift the little bud
O longing of the arteries
To purify the blood

And let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

O let the heavens hear it
The penitential hymn
Come healing of the spirit
Come healing of the limb

 

[1] Thomas Keating, “Notes from a Deep Conversation,” Contemplative Outreach: Silence, Solitude, Solidarity, Service – News 31, no. 2 (2015): 1.

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About Nicole

Nicole Oliver Snyder’s expertise lies in the areas of leadership, gender issues, and mindfulness practice as it affects both. Leadership, particularly in an urban setting, requires community-relations skills, and an ability to clearly convey justice issues as they relate to felt, spiritual ones. Dr. Snyder is author of Leading Together: Mindfulness and the Gender Neutral Zone, and specializes in teaching mindfulness leadership development, formative spirituality, counseling, and Old Testament theology (emphasis on justice issues). She has a diverse background in international community-relations work combined with volunteer work in multi-ethnic communities, and with local institutions. She is an ordained Clergy; holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies, w/Education Certificate, an MA-Counseling, MDiv Equiv., holds a Doctor of Ministry and Advanced Certification in Formative Spiritual Direction, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (MI).

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