Thursday, 1 December 2011


I have been doing some follow-up reading after that stress management course I went on. (Perhaps I should reassure my concerned readers that I am not suffering from stress; I went on the course because my work involves working with people under great pressure and I was interested to learn how I and others might better support them).

One of the b0oks I am reading, recommended by someone recovering from a breakdown himself, was on mindfulness. It cites lots of research evidence that spending a short time in meditation each day has many and significant benefits with regard to health, resilience and happiness.

Needless to say, the meditations it offers are of a secular kind, but it does have the grace to acknowledge that this is ancient wisdom found in most serious religions.

The concept of mindfulness seems to be about living in the present moment, neither worrying about the past, nor the future. Regular practice of this actually changes the brain for the better, apparently, leading to the kind of serenity one sometimes meets in people who have.... spent a lot of time in meditation (who would have thought it?)

Of course, this is strong in the Catholic tradition; confession helps us to draw a line under past failings. And Our Lord has instructed us to pray for this day's daily bread - not for our pensions and a secure and wealthy retirement... 'Lord for tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray...'

But what struck me most was that the discipline of putting time aside for prayer each day (not rushing through prayer while driving to work, for example, as I sometimes do when time is tight) is very important; in particular, a mindful rosary. I find that the practice of inserting a short interjection after the Holy Name in each Ave is very helpful: one that keeps me mindful of the mystery I am praying. I can't remember where I first read about this, possibly St Louis de Montfort, but it is a wonderful practice.

And now I have the research to prove it.

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