Friday, June 10, 2011

Had an ACT moment at the Adoration chapel today

I'm having one of those weeks that make me wish the lessons would stop coming.  Brain full.  Yeah....

And to even explain it to most of you, I have to define at least two terms.  Remember Venn diagrams from high school algebra?  Some of you fit in the circle of people who know about ACT, some of you fit in the circle of people who know about Eucharistic Adoration, and a few of you fit in the place where the two circles intersect.  There's also tons of people who don't fit in either circle....but my brain is full, I can't handle that right now.  So...

ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that emphasizes acceptance of what is, whether inside your mind or body or outside in your surroundings.   In a nutshell, it advocates choosing the direction you want to go in and accepting whatever else comes along with life.  Its sort of "serenity prayer"-like.  Change what you can, accept what you can't, keep on keepin' on, all that good stuff.  I like ACT.  It confuses the heck out of me but it makes sense.

Eucharistic adoration is a Catholic practice where we go into a quiet chapel and adore the Eucharist, which we believe is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.  It looks a little funny, I bet.  I like Adoration even more than I like ACT.  In fact, when I first heard of ACT, I thought of the great Catholic saints who committed their lives to God and accepted a lot of bad with the good.  St. Lucy who had her eyes poked out comes to mind, but that's just my mood talking.

What do these two things have in common?  Meditation.  ACT uses a lot of mindfulness practice, which is all about being in the moment, focusing, noticing, and going with the flow without getting "grabbed" by your thoughts.  A classic example from Buddhism is about watching your thoughts go down a river without actually getting hooked into buying any of the thoughts.  After all, everybody knows a lot of our thoughts are horse pucky.  The important thoughts are the ones that match up with our values - the things to which we've committed ourselves.

I try to meditate on the Eucharist when I'm in the chapel.  You could say I'm committed to that.  Sometimes I meditate on a mystery of the rosary or some verse of scripture.  Often, the same thing happens as when I try to practice mindfulness: the grocery list starts writing itself.  There's no bread at home, and I have to remember to stop by Petco for dog kibbles.  Did I lock the front door when I left the house?  Mom didn't call me back last night.....WEEEEE, PRETTY LIGHTS ON THE WINDOWS!  Vacuum cleaner.  Vacuum.  That's a funny word.

ACT tells us this is normal - the human condition - and to expect it.  The saints pretty much say the same thing; the world is always around us, and temptations and  "important things I need to do instead of this" will always abound...we will fall a lot and get off track daily.  Today was a tough one, though.  I just wanted my quiet time with Jesus but, instead, I got Chel's Most Inane Thoughts Jumping on a Trampoline!  The takeaway from all this babble?  I'm not sure, but I suspect patience is a part of it.  More specifically, patience (acceptance, even!) toward myself.  Patience with everybody else who has their own babbling thought trampoline.  Bottom line?  What would a saint who was also an ACT therapist tell me?

Be thankful.  Get up and try again tomorrow.

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