Old style mystics withdrew from the world into monasteries or convents, or they lived as hermits in a cave or a hut a long way from civilization.
Modern day mystics are called to embark on the journey in the middle of things. It’s no longer about running away, it’s about finding yourself right where you are.
Old style mystics relied on prayer, fasting, and isolation. They turned away from the experience of everyday life.
Today’s mystics are called to embrace the experience of everyday life, so you’ll need to use some different tools.
You will not hear the call until you stop and listen.
There are many ways to pause in a day. Meditation and prayer are two ways of taking time out of your day to be still. Another easy way is to remember to breathe.
If there is one thing you need to learn to start the journey, it is to listen.
It’s easy to ask questions like: Who am I? Why am I here? Are you there, God?
It’s something altogether different to hear the answers to your questions. That requires silence and a willingness to listen.
Most of us know about prayers of intercession – prayers asking God for something. We have prayer books full of such prayers, yet the secret all mystics have uncovered is the prayer of silence.
Uncovering your beliefs
No-one gets to a mid-life crisis without a set of beliefs. If you’re not sure what your beliefs are, take a look at the circumstances of your life. Who are you with? What thoughts are guiding your decisions? What are you saying to yourself every day?
If you don’t question anything, you will never know if what you believe is something you discovered and tested for yourself or whether it’s someone’s opinion that you have fallen under the spell of believing – and we have all been indoctrinated by our cultures, religions, institutions and the media.
Stepping into the unknown
Unless you step outside your belief bubble, you will never learn anything new about yourself or Life. Explore other possibilities. Read widely. Take courses. Talk to people. Be curious.
Contemplation is giving deep reflective thought to things.
Does something you’ve read in a book or watched in a video online ring true for you? Do those beliefs you have been carrying around since childhood still have value or can you let them go? Is there another way of looking at things?
Every life experience has something for you, even the things that initially don’t look so good when they arrived. Learning to be grateful for every experience is an essential skill.
Being grateful doesn’t mean you have to enjoy the shit when it happens but it does mean being open to the lesson – even if it’s only a reminder that you don’t want that experience anymore.
Gratitude gets easier when you see the connection between what you believe and the circumstances that manifest as your life experience.
Another word for mindfulness is attentiveness. Being mindful is a way of paying attention to what’s going on in the present moment or of being present to the now. And, that’s where your life is happening.
This is only a hurdle until you realize that the only person you have to forgive is yourself.
Like all tools, this set looks good on the shelf but they’ll have no value unless you use them – regularly.