9 Mar 2022

Lenten Devotional, Day 7, Beasties and Weeds (episode 67)

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I spotted my first dandelion. He was poking up between bricks in our herb garden. I happened to see the little fella right after thinking about disruptive thoughts that pop up while I’m meditating. There seemed to be a connection.

I took a class recently called “Quieting the Beast”. The class was all about recognizing when intrusive thoughts are distracting you from being in a productive or spirit-minded space. We learned to observe ourselves and intervene as needed. Sitting quietly has a way of making you painfully aware of all of the inner chatter going on.

Our instructor, a nature educator named Tom Brown, referred to chaotic thoughts as “the Beast.” At the end of every nature meditation I capture my observations in a notebook. I always make a list of “beast sightings.” Those are the moments when I recognize my mind has wandered off. One of my most common beasts, is thinking about to write. Slipping into figuring out my next post is way too easy.The problem is that once I start composing, I might as well be inside at my desk. I’m completely distracted by the beast.

Writing up observations about myself, is helping me recognize patterns of distraction. Which in turn helps me recognize more quickly in the moment that my mind is wandering. I can course correct quickly. As a result, I’m spending more time meditating and less distracted.

Some of the invasive thoughts are like dandelions. Dandelions are not bad plants. In fact, dandelions are awesome. They are nutrition and versatile. You can toss the leaves in salad. You can batter the flowers and fry them up like fritter or ground the root into something akin to a coffee substitute. You can even make dandelion wine. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard it is quite pleasant.

Most of the time dandelions are only considered a weed because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or we don’t understand their value. Dandelions are butting in where they ought not, like the little fella pushing up between the bricks of my herb garden. In a different garden, a dandelion would be a crop rather than a weed.

Many of my disruptive thoughts are like the little dandelion. Thinking about blog post ideas is a good thing, but not during the middle of my sit spot time. Right thought. Wrong place. Wrong time.

The great thing about thoughts is you can uproot or transplant them instantly. Now when I have an intrusive idea, I just tell myself, “I will deal with you later. Go away, not now.”

Some thoughts are more than a nuisance popping in uninvited. Some thoughts are poisonous. They are more like water hemlock, one of the most poisons plants in North American. You don’t want to just push poisonous to the side. They need to be eliminated and they must be handled with care.

What recurring thoughts do you have that are frequently disruptive? When could you give them the attention thy need and deserve? What thoughts are actually poisonous? How can you carefully eliminate those?

A Collect for Weeds:
Heavenly Father, whose timing is always right, give us self-awareness to recognize disruptive thoughts and the self-discipline to attend to them at the proper time, so that we may benefit rather than suffer from them, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

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