I’m still an introvert, kept to myself, and enjoyed being apart from what most enjoyed being a part of. I enjoyed putting my old life behind and building a new life. I worked, I read, I walked and I looked at buildings’ architecture. I ran, I rode my bike, and went to museums and art galleries and movies and symphonies and to simple restaurants, and I taught myself to cook. I went to church.
And I sat, or lay on my back on my bed in quiet in my little 224 East 74th St. between Second and Third Avenues $175 a month Manhattan Upper East Side apartment, and I watched my mind. I watched my memories my thoughts and let myself feel my emotions. I didn’t act on them. I talked about them with my psychiatrist. I tried to draw my images, without success. In time I realized I was lonely and slowly, slowly I emerged from my reclusiveness. I wanted to meet people. It was my most wonderful, horrible, terrific, terrible, very good era. I meditated and I was! I never knew it was meditation; no one used that word in that era.
Mindfulness meditation now is a practice in which people sit down with feet flat on floor or lay down on bed or couch, in quiet and silence, and observe their memories, thoughts, and emotions come up into mind go out of mind, without judgment and without acting on them; some practitioners focus on breathing too but it’s not a requirement. These days it’s an everyday tool in the psychotherapeutic kit.
Watching my mind is a wonderful skill and I use it to check in with my self. I watch what rises to mind, experience my memories and how I feel. Feelings, thoughts, and memories rise up and fall away, I watching all. When some return repeatedly I know I must pay heed and do some work by digging deeper.
Later in time I learned it existed in the 10th & 11th century monastic practice of St. Romuald of the Camaldolese Benedictines. It’s written in their Little Rule of Saint Romuald. This little rule was for the hermits’ practice with The Psalms. The Psalms are the center of Camaldolese monastic practice. The Little Rule begins,
Sit in your cell as in paradise. Put the whole world behind your and forget it. Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman, watching for fish. The path you must follow is in the Psalms ~ never leave it.
If you have just come to the monastery and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind. And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up; hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.Realize above all that you are in God’s presence, and stand there with the attitude of one what stands before the emperor.Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like the chick who takes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.
Mindfulness meditation in the 10th & 11th centuries practiced by people filled with The Holy Spirit.