Of Raisons and Religion
“Examine the food in front of you. What does it look like? What does it smell like? How does it feel when you place it in your mouth and chew? Now swallow. How does the food feel in your throat? Follow the fruit down into your stomach…” It’s not easy to take a raison seriously…
As I gingerly strolled fashionably late into my psychology class I was taken aback to see an unfamiliar face in the front of the room. Cautiously taking my seat, I began to listen to the life story of an ex-hippie turned Buddhist philosopher. She came to our psych class to share her thoughts and teachings about what it meant to be mindful in one’s life. As in introduction to being mindful our psychology class was charged with task of being mindful to a raison, which was particularly hard because they were about 50 years old and I am a picky eater. We ate, she spoke, we meditated; I imagined a slightly more PG version of our speaker’s life in the commune. It wasn’t until weeks later that I began to realize the real importance of her words; especially in regard to religion.
To be Mindful is to take stop and take time to truly experience an event and its effects on one’s self. I thought if it can be done with a raison, why not with something more abstract, and important, like religion. Many of us attend some kind of church at least once a year but are we truly mindful of the event? Do we really try to think about and feel what it’s like to attend? For many of us the answer is unfortunately no. Due to monotony and our inability to let the go of the thought of family, work, and other stressors it is hard for us to experience anything. Soon religion becomes part of the white noise and stress.
So how can a person be more mindful about church and religion? I’m sure that there aren’t many people out there that want to be more aware of the funny smells in the pews, the pain in their knees when they’re kneeling, or the way the Eucharist sticks to the roof of their mouth. What we should pay more attention to is how we feel about being at church. Examine any reactions you have to the images around the church. Examine how listening to readings from religious texts make you feel. How does shaking the hand and offering peace to the person next to you make you react? By making small changes like these we can separate the white noise from our religious experiences and allow ourselves to be reminded of why we go to church in the first place.