A sentinel all around
“…if we starve ourselves of mental junk and replace it with what is true, admirable, right, pure, beautiful, and attractive, peace will stand as a sentinel all around our feelings and thoughts, creating an impregnable fortress of calm and tranquility.”
— David Murray
Could you use some calm and tranquility right now? I know I could. I’m writing this in the wee hours of the morning, having been unable to go back to sleep after being awakened in the night. It’s an all-too-common situation; I fall asleep exhausted, but if I wake up (whether on my own, or due to environmental noises) I often lie awake fretting over all the cares that await me as soon as I get up.
I’ve dealt with insomnia long enough to know that lying in bed worrying is not a good precedent to set, and can become an escalating threat to future sleep, so I try to switch gears and look at it as a gift of time. Often I’ll choose to get up and go to work in the blessed quiet of those predawn hours, promising myself an extra-early bedtime later.
This morning, though I had planned to tackle a few projects I had been dreading, I ended up getting distracted by looking through some happy photographs. The transformation from self-pity and anxiety to a feeling of gratitude and joy was remarkable. I’m sure I’ll be yawning in exhaustion this afternoon, but I hope that the mood-boosting reminders of abundance will stay with me. The problems that had me lying awake aren’t going to vanish, but I can choose to make them better or worse, depending on what I pay attention to and how I react.
I invite you to join me and “just say no” to a mental diet of junk. As with healthy food, exercise or other aspects of wellness, it might take awhile to cultivate a taste for what is admirable, right, pure and beautiful; we live in a world that seems determined to focus on doom and gloom and useless hand-wringing. But I think the rewards of setting up sentinels to guard our minds and hearts are well worth the initial effort.
What thoughts, activities, poems, prayers, or practices can you rely upon to give you a quick attitude adjustment when you most need it? Feel free to share your favorite joys with us, and let’s build that fortress of calm and tranquility, one intentional moment at a time.