I feel a light breeze, barely perceptible, brushing across my face, as I trail my hand in the river. The water pushes against my palm, forcing my fingers open as it slips through, and I stay that way until my wrist starts to ache with the chill. I can hear only the roar of rushing water, the distant calling of an eagle, and the hollow notes of the Tibetan monks. Oh, and also the urgent banging of a hand on my bedroom window, and the incessant whining of, "Mom! Mom! Mom, what are you doing?"
I open my eyes and the forest and the waterfall and the Tibetan monks disappear, silenced as I pause the meditation soundtrack on my phone and return my attention to the present needs. Apparently the dog is chewing the children's ball, and he won't listen to anyone but me. The monks will have to wait.
Welcome to Project 40, where you are invited to join me in giving attention to the training of different aspects of your life to prepare to live your strongest story. I introduced Project 40 a couple of weeks ago, and since then we have looked at Training our Spirits, Tending our Souls, and this week we will be concentrating on Taming the Mind.
Project 40 Plan
In my Project 40 journal I start off each of the four sections - Spirit, Soul, Mind and Strength - with a prayerfully considered vision for that area of my life, and then a plan for the outworking of that vision. Following that, I return to my journal every so often to assess and record how I am progressing in that area, so that I can be intentional about moving forward into my preferred future.
Today we are looking at Taming the Mind, so I am going to let you in on some of my personal journey in this area, with the hope that it will bring clarity and inspire you to start your own. After all, we are all part of a single army, and I need you to be the strongest version of yourself, just as you need me to be!
My Mind - The Vision
The following is a portion of my personal vision for taming and cultivating my mind, as written in my own Project 40 journal:
My mind, my will, my power of reason, my ability to think, to remember, to resolve. My mind is a gift. "What you neglect, you lose." I want to steward the gift of my mind well. It is possibly the most powerful part of me, but also the most under-attended. My mind is incredibly capable... I believe it is capable of so much more than I have yet seen.
I love to think to write, to capture and express words. I love to learn. I want to be intentional around feeding my mind, as well as training it - training being both exercise and rest.
I want to learn to meditate, to keep my mind fixed on the task at hand. I want to grow in knowledge of the world - politics, sport, religion and news. I want to stay sharp and fit with mental exercises such as learning a new language. I want to learn to remain focused on a task until I have brought it to completion, to increase my mental stamina.
My Mind - The Plan
Depending on what your goals are for the maximising of your mind, you can set yourself targets, such as taking a few minutes each day to meditate, or to add to your knowledge through learning and reading. We need to remember that our minds will only have appetite for healthy food when we cut out the junk we too often feed it on. Relentlessly scrolling through social media, or watching nail-biting series on Netflix, leaves you with little time or energy to improve your mind with anything good.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8)
For me personally, my first priority has been to train my mind to obedience in one direction. I have researched the best way to do this, and meditation seems to be a very helpful tool, not only to rest your mind from busyness (when you know how to do it properly), but also to habituate your mind to remain on point. As you may know, monkey-mind is a problem for me hence the chosen verb in the title of this blog: Taming My Mind.
Will-power is, for me, my second biggest mind-orientated priority, but I am working on this aspect of the mind mostly through my exercise and eating regime, so I will deal with that in the next and last blog in this series - Building My Strength.
My Mind - A Few Steps In
This is an excerpt from my Project 40 journal, a month into the process:
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”
In my devotion time this morning, I asked God how my heart is and I felt He answered, 'Distracted.' This is not the first time I have heard this from Him, and yet I have made no progress in meditation. Its time to up my game in this area...
And then after a bit of research on meditation, I added my favourite quotes from the articles I had read:
'Meditation is focus and concentration.'
'Our breath leads us to think of God, for it is connected with Him and is good evidence of our direct dependence on Him at every moment of our life.'
I have added this disheartening report of my 'few steps in' so that you can see how helpful assessment is. Revisiting this journal helps me to see where I am making progress, and where I am just going around the mountain on the same issues.
Time to Tame Your Mind
And that's it from me. Now over to you. May you play Sudoko, learn French, silence the noise, read the newspaper, and learn to train your mind with sustenance, exercise and rest.