Spirituality for Difficult Times Part 4 of 5

The Practice of the Presence of God

By Harriet, Editor At Large

When one starts practicing the presence of God it is common to become very, very aware of things that before would have passed them by. All sorts of things will be “wrong”. It is also usual to project these out into the world. Emotions come to the surface and seem to be a result of problems outside of the self. As a result the person can become very, very angry at injustice, at the violence that is being perpetrated, at how we are manipulated by the media, not to mention having to deal with accumulated grief from a multitude of losses, frustration when others don’t seem to be aware of the changes that must be made to address problems and so on.

Just be aware that this is very normal. The trick to managing runaway emotions is to keep your feet firmly on the ground. Literally become aware of the feeling of the soles of your feet, whether bare foot or in shoes. Then slowly come up to your chest, breathe deeply, become aware of the presence of God and ask yourself what you need to do right this minute. Usually it is something very mundane like cutting some wood for the fire, doing something for a family member, re-shelving your stores, cleaning the floor or folding the washing.

Life has always been unjust. People have always suffered immense losses. Politics and power games have always occurred in our western civilisation, and probably elsewhere as well. Mostly we address this by choosing not to see the problems and avoid the uncomfortable feelings that go with perceiving what is wrong with the world. We try to ignore the nasty stuff, look on the bright side or for the silver lining. Seldom can we cope with seeing the bad stuff as it is. Once we practice the presence of God we can no longer hide.

We have to recognise that most people cannot cope with knowing the truth as we now see it. They just don’t have the coping mechanisms which allow them to stay sane. So we have to learn how to manage dealing with their chosen blindness as well as understanding our own past in a new way.

For ourselves it is about keeping ourselves in the presence of God as we observe the world without judgement. God can judge all God likes. We just observe. Then we make a measured assessment of what, if anything, we can do to improve things for ourselves, for our family and for our community.

If we cannot change something we have to practice non-judgmental acceptance. We have to learn to accept the is-ness of a situation. We have to accept what is. Without judgement. That is the only way we can cope with our awareness. This doesn’t mean that we don’t know the difference between right and wrong. It just means we aren’t going to hurt ourselves when there is nothing we can do about a particular wrong. Why should we suffer pain because someone else is setting out to destroy what we value (the constitution, our legal rights, committing theft or murder on a grand scale, etc). Of course it will hurt if someone murders our child. However we do not need to feel the same pain when it is someone else’s child.

We are seeking to have the understanding, the thoughts, mindset, focus, attitude and action that is conducive to happiness, to serenity (the peace of God which passes all understanding) and to understanding our lives according to the will, the love and the wisdom of God. Emotional blasts in my opinion are not taking me in that direction.

Practicing the presence of God, walking in God’s presence, accepting the situation I find myself in as I walk is more likely to take me in the right direction.

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