Affirmation No. 6: Try a little SQAE

Enjoy this monthly post by Reverend Patrick Riecke, director, Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services.


Time plays tricks on me.

Someone has said, “While the days go slow, the years go quickly.”

In the midst of daily life, it can be hard to maintain focus, and to feel connected to what actually matters.

I am not a LeBron James fan, but I noticed something several years ago during an NBA finals game, at a time when everything was going wrong for James.

He was taken out of the game.

He sat down on the bench.

He closed his eyes.

He took one deep breath.

Then another.

And another.

As a fan of people being their best selves, I was captivated. He was clearly engaging in a discipline very parallel to what I am about to share with you. (Spoiler alert: He was wearing an NBA championship ring not long after that moment on the bench.)

In life, when I am in the middle of running here and there, playing offense and defense, having a mix of success and failure, assisting others and running into constant conflict ... I need to slow down and refocus. The following four words/phrases have helped me do just that for the past several years.

Slow

I slow my pace.

When I have been chasing my tail, I need to slow my pace, physically. Chasing my tail is not an effective way to focus or find meaning.

Have you ever met anyone who talked about how busy they are and they were happy about it? No. Newsflash (for me): I don’t get extra points for hurrying and being busy.

I need to slow my pace.

 

Quiet

I quiet my mind.

Instead of trying to make your mind stop thinking about things, which is impossible, Eckard Tolle suggests that we simply observe our thoughts. Watch them come, consider them, then let them go. As we begin to associate more closely with the observer of our thoughts (our deeper, inner selves), we will associate less with the thoughts themselves.
 

Appreciate

I appreciate each moment.

Every moment is infused with beauty. Even the worst moments of life often have a hint of beauty. Appreciate the beauty of each moment. The best way I know how to do this is to pay attention to two things: One, I notice my breath. I give my breath just a bit of attention. I remember that I will only have so many moments in this life. And two, I notice where my eyes point. If I am truly appreciating each moment, my eyes usually are directed at the face of another person, words on a page that illuminate me, a beautiful sky, or something that is wonderful and beautiful.

Pro tip: If my eyes are pointed at that mindless app for too long, it does not help me to focus and find meaning.
 

Enjoy

I enjoy with all my heart

I don’t believe that God’s Spirit is a scolding spirit. Rather, I view God as an enthusiastic tour guide, hoping to open my eyes to the wonders all around me.

Have you ever been on a great tour? Imagine God as your tour guide in this world—pointing out all the beautiful things. Jesus says “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. But my purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10

Can you add “Enjoyment” to your list of Spiritual Practices?

SQAE everyday

The other day I was driving home after dropping some of my kids off for an activity.

It was a sunny day, and the grass was green. Nothing special was happening.

I slowed my pace (literally, let my speedometer ease just a bit).
I quieted my mind (observed all those unconscious thoughts jumping into my brain).
I appreciated the moment (it was quiet and I like driving my car).
I enjoyed with all my heart (instead of grumping about having to run one more errand).

Did this process of slow, quiet, appreciate and enjoy change the world?

Yes. Yes, it did.

It changed my inner world, which is, after all, the only world within my control to change.

Slow

Quiet

Appreciate

Enjoy

 

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