There is a Buddhist saying to the effect of: Our minds are like tofu, they take on whatever flavor they marinade in. Yeah, they do. Last night after marinating in stories of violence and the media, my subconscious mind sifted through the details of the day by offering up an extremely violent nightmare. Logically I know that my experience was not reality. But the visceral emotions in those moments between sleep and wake, the ghost of the dream, linger into the day like a residue that cant quite be wiped away.
When I was learning to drive my father gave me the warning not to drive over the yellow line on the side of the road. He, of course, was worried that I would veer off into the narrow gravel shoulder and lose control of the car. The moment he put the warning into my head I developed a drifting problem. I was drawn to the line like a magnet, raising the blood pressure of every adult teacher who would share the passenger seat. On one of those outings my perspective was flipped. My mother pointed out that there was plenty of room within the lane and to concentrate on all that room in front of me. By reframing the issue I was able to marinate in a different reality. Gone was my perpetual attraction to the yellow line.
In a world that seems to obsess over the most violent, the most corrupt, the most scandalous activity it is no wonder that things seem to be getting worse. Rachel Maddow recently showed a graph pointing out that we are living in an increasingly violent world, (at least in regards to mass shootings). We are in need of some reframing. Instead of pointing to the violence and pain in the world perhaps we should be lifting up what is working and what is good.
In a Holy Doodle by Trey Everett he points to the effects of what we dwell on. In, The Jesus Prayer, Everett Illustrates that you are what you marinate in. A body that dwells in negativity, violence, and all the lies we tell to ourselves about ourselves will emanate from that person. The Jesus Prayer offers a type of intervention. It is an interruption to the negative talk and negative stimulus that we are surrounded by. It is a simple prayer, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” It is a step on the way to learning the truth about ourselves. Stop the cycle of violence that you perpetuate upon yourself first. Marinate in something true that points toward a positive image of the world you want to live in.
Check out www.micahprays.org for more from Trey Everett and his Holy Doodles. This is also an excellent source for Contemplative Christianity.